How to start an online business: the ultimate guide for starting a business in 2020

by | Aug 13, 2020 | Success | 0 comments

How to start an online business_ the ultimate guide for starting a business in 2020

Wondering how to start an online business? 

My goal with this guide is to help you achieve your dreams and build a business from your own home, a business that not just makes money – but one that can grow and scale. 

But!

If you want to be successful, then you need to put in the work. It won’t be easy but if you’re willing to work, you can definitely build a business that generates upwards of $5,000 a month. Your businesses’ success is all about you – and what you are willing to do to make it work. 

But enough introduction – let’s get straight to the good stuff:

Table of Contents

1: Picking your niche

Your first challenge is pretty simple: picking your blog niche. 

And in this section, I’ll show you exactly how to pick a profitable blog niche that has the potential to grow and scale, with step-by-step instructions:

  • What makes a blog niche and audience profitable
  • How to find out how profitable a niche is
  • How to find the right balance between passion and profitability 

A lot of people will tell you that passion is essential to blogging success.

That bloggers who fail, fail because they simply aren’t passionate enough about their chosen topic. 

But the truth is, when you start a blog business, one of the biggest reasons why you could fail is because you haven’t picked the right niche.  

It could be that you’re just not knowledgeable enough about that topic. 

That there aren’t enough monetization options for that niche or that you’re not leveraging the right monetization tactics. 

And that you’re not targeting the right audience: an audience that has the spending power, beyond low-ticket items that cost $20 up to a few hundred $. 

What you need in order to succeed is a profitable niche and audience

If you’re only targeting regular people with average incomes, it’s going to be VERY difficult to sell enough products to make a decent profit, not to mention actually scaling your blog business.   

Basically, your success as a blogger always starts with your niche. 

Here are the steps involved in choosing the right niche for your blog (and don’t skip any steps either ☺

Step 1: What do YOU know?

What are your skills? What are you most knowledgeable about? What topics are you passionate about? 

As I mentioned earlier, passion alone is not a ticket to success; quite the contrary in fact. 

BUT, it’s a great starting point for todays’ challenge; depending of course on what you’re passionate about…

For example, you might LOVE watching movies and TV shows, but the chances of building a profitable business out of this passion are pretty low. 

But there are other things you might be enjoying that could turn into a profitable business. 

Plus, you do need to like the topic to some extent; after all, the goal is to live and breathe this topic for years to come.

So the first thing I want you to do is take a pen and paper and make an exhaustive list of:

  • All of the things you love doing 
  • Anything you’re passionate about – any topic you can think of! 
  • All of your skills: what do you know how to do? What are your skills? Don’t overlook any, just write down any skills you can think of (writing, taking photos, editing videos, graphic design, and even things like being great with people and with giving advice, or being great with money – just write down everything you can do, whether it’s practical or not) 
  • All of your past jobs and your responsibilities there (for example, maybe you were an exemplary manager or you were the king or queen of HR)  
  • All of your hobbies: who knows, one of them could turn out to be a very profitable niche 

Literally write down everything you can think of – you’re not choosing anything yet, just keeping your options open and expanding your horizons. 

Step 2: Start scrapping your list

Now that you’ve got your list ready, it’s time to start removing some of them – and making your shortlist of niches/topics. 

At the end of this exercise, you should be left with 5 topics to focus on. 

And later on, I’ll show you how to properly research each one to find the ideal niche for your blog. 

Here are some tips to help you cut down your list:

  • Separate your list into two columns: Passions and Skills 
  • Pick any overlapping elements from the 2 columns: these niches will definitely be worth looking into 
  • Scrap anything that you just don’t know enough about (but don’t delete them completely – those skills could prove useful when coming up with your blog monetization plan)

Once you’ve got the 5 niches ready, it’s time to start your research; now, you’ll find out whether your niche is profitable enough. 

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Step 3: Find out how profitable each niche is 

What kinds of products and services can you create?

Is there a big enough audience?

How much are they willing to spend on these products and services?

These are all extremely important questions that you need to answer because if your niche isn’t profitable – and scalable – your blog business will fail. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Research and make a list of all the most popular blogs in this niche 
  • Identify and make a list of each of these blogs’ products and services, along with their pricing (hint: google the blog’s name + “income report” to see if they’ve published any reports in their past detailing all their income sources and how much they made from each one)
  • Separate the lists for each blog into 2 categories: low-ticket items (products and services that cost under $100) and high-ticket items (products and services over $100)
  • Look up your niche on Google: what ads appear? If there are ads for the types of products you might talk about in your blog, that’s a great sign as it shows potential for affiliate marketing opportunities and for creating and selling various products 
  • What recurring income streams are possible? Selling products is a great way to make money, but it’s very unpredictable. You need to also be able to have some recurring income streams that you can rely on every month (for example, recurring consulting/coaching clients, recurring freelancer clients and so on)

Ideally, you need to pick a niche that allows you to sell both low-ticket and high-ticket items. 

If you can only sell low-ticket items, then it’s going to involve A LOT of work to make enough money to make a profit, since you have to sell huge volumes. 

On the other hand, if you can only sell high-ticket items, it can be difficult to sell enough and to get recurring clients. 

Step 4: Research niche keywords

Along with the profitability of your niche, another extremely important factor is the search volume for that niche. 

If there aren’t enough people searching for the topics you’re writing about (and selling), then you should try a different niche or change your approach – it’s that simple. 

In order to find out how many people are searching for these topics, start by making a list of keywords that you believe people will use to search for these terms. 

Basically, put yourself in their shoes: what google searches would you make?

Then, you need to research those tools and so you’ll need an SEO tool to help. 

If you’re serious about this business, then you should invest in a powerful SEO tool – I use and recommend SEMRush – because you’re going to need it a lot on your journey. 

Free tools are great for some basic research, but their results are just not that accurate.  

Plus, a good SEO tool will help you all along the way with your keyword optimization, your backlinking strategy and even the work you do for your clients. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Create the list of keywords that people would use to search for a blog like yours; basically, put yourself in their shoes: what google searches would you make? Focus on long-tail keywords; for example, don’t search for “graphic design”, search for “how to become a graphic designer” and “graphic design courses” 
  • Look up each keyword in your list and write down the search volume: ideally, you want to go for keywords that have thousands of searches every month, at least
  • Get keyword suggestions: see what other related keywords there are that people search for and what their search volume is like 

By the end of this exercise, you should have a list of at least 15-20 keywords, amounting to a total of minimum 200,000 searches a month (and even more!)

Step 5: Research competitors and niche potential

How “evergreen” is your niche? Will it still be around 5 years down the line, 10 years, 15…?

Take the time to think about this as realistically as possible because while some niches might be popular now, they could also die out in the future (or the products/services you’re selling could die out).

Also at this stage, you should go back to your potential competitors – other bloggers in this niche – to see how many competitors you’d have and how big they are. 

This is because if you can’t find a lot of competition, then it’s probably not the best niche to go for. At this point, people have tried almost anything and everything online, in the hopes of making money. 

So if no one is succeeding in the niche you’re interested, then there’s probably isn’t enough demand to sustain this business model. 

It’s kind of like the “restaurant rule”: if there are 3 busy restaurants on a street, then clearly people are coming there to eat – so that means there’s room for your “restaurant” too.

To sum up:

Here are the most important lessons and tips to get out of this section:

  • Make a list of all your skills, passions, hobbies, past jobs and roles 
  • Start scrapping your list until you’re left with 5 niches 
  • Find out how profitable each of these 5 niches are 
  • Research relevant keywords to discover 
  • Create a list of 15-20 keywords to target, that generate a combined total of 200,000+ searches every month 
  • Research competitors and make a list of all low-ticket and high-ticket items sold

2: Building your blog

By this point, you should have a very clear idea of what niche to go for, based on your own knowledge and skills but most importantly, based on how profitable your niche and audience are.

And now that you know what your blog business will be, it’s time to build your platform: the blog. 

In this section, you’ll learn everything you need to know about getting your blog up and running, from picking your domain name to designing your blog. 

Step 1: Pick a domain name

Picking a good domain name is a very important step in building a business. After all, it will become known as the name of your blog, too. 

Your domain name as a blogger can be:

  • Your name or word play containing your name (a very easy way to come up with a domain name!)
  • A keyword-rich domain name that clearly shows what your blog is about

You need to pick something that is easy to remember and easy to type in – you want people to hear your blog’s name and remember it immediately so that they remember you and your business and keep coming back for more. 

Once you’ve got a list of ideas to start you off with, you can use Bluehost’s free domain name availability tool to see if your desired domain name is free to buy:

Plus, if your ideal domain name is already taken, it will give you similar suggestions that are free to buy, together with their pricing. 

Step 2: Get website hosting 

The next essential step is to get a hosting provider; and the great news is, some hosting providers also include one-click WordPress installing, which makes the process so much easier. 

My recommendation? Get Bluehost because not only is it one of the leading hosting providers of the world, but you’ll also get a lot of goodies if you get it through this link:

  • Free domain name 
  • 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy 
  • Discounted monthly price of only €2.49 + VAT 
  • Free SSL certificate (essential for the security of your website!)
  • Plus 1-click WordPress install 

Step 3: Launch your WordPress blog with Bluehost 

Once you’ve set up your hosting with Bluehost, you can get started with WordPress in a matter of minutes. 

Go to your cPanel dashboard in your Bluehost account, click on My Sites, and then simply click on “Install WordPress”. 

There are a lot of other great blogging/website platforms too, but WordPress is one of the most versatile and easy to use platforms so I definitely recommend it. 

Plus, it’s all much cheaper (and faster) when you get it as a package with Bluehost

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Step 4: Plan your blog’s sitemap

Before you start designing your blog, there’s one more step: planning your blog’s sitemap.

It might sound complicated, but it’s actually very easy; basically, you need to make a list of all the key pages that your website will include. 

The most important pages to include are:

  • The homepage: the first page people see when they visit your blog; since you’re building a business, your focus here should be on what you can do for your audience and how you can help them grow/make money/learn new skills/etc. 
  • About page: here, you’ll tell your visitors a little bit about yourself and your blog 
  • Start Here page: make it easier for your visitors and readers and put together a Start Here page where you list out all the most important pages, content and resources for your website: talk about your opt-in, your staple pieces of content (how-to guides, whitepapers, e-books, etc.) and provide links to your products and services pages – we’ll be talking about how to create your staple pieces of content in detail in the upcoming emails
  • Product pages: if you’re going to sell any digital products, you should create a page where all of these products are easy to find; plus, you should also consider creating pages for each one
  • Services pages: likewise, if you’re going to offer any services (consulting, coaching, content writing, freelancing, etc.) you need to create a dedicated Services page (or several for that matter)
  • Blog: this will be the main blogging page where all of your blog posts will live 
  • Contact: a contact page where people can reach out to you directly via form and/or email

Step 5: Get your basic WordPress plugins

Another reason why WordPress is so great? All of the amazing plugins. 

These will help you get more out of your website, including setting up contact forms, adding social sharing options, adding sliders and helping improve your SEO.

Here are the essential plugins to start you off with:

  • Gravity Forms – one of the absolute best online form plugins for WordPress (you need it for contact forms, opt-in forms, etc.)
  • WP Rocket – to help improve your WordPress site’s performance (another must-have plugin)
  • Landingi – easily build landing pages for your products, services and other promotions, using ready-made templates 
  • Social Warfare – add beautiful social sharing buttons (it’s my personal favourite – the buttons look great, they’re very versatile and it’s one of the few tools that still show most shares from social networks, while other plugins are limited)
  • Soliloquy – one of the best slider plugins for WordPress (and completely mobile responsive)
  • SEOPressor – another top SEO tool that likewise, helps you optimize your posts and pages for search engines 
  • BlogVault – the best back-up plugin available for WordPress (it’s an essential tool as it keeps your website’s content safe)
  • BeaverBuilder – super easy to use responsive WordPress page builder 

Getting plugins is essential and you should invest in all the basics to start with – this way, you can ensure that your website runs smoothly, that it’s optimized for search engines and that you’re engaging you visitors (in order to ultimately get more leads and sales!) 

Step 6: Install Google Analytics and the Google Search Console and set up WordPress settings

Google offers 2 free and very valuable tools to website owners:

  • Google Analytics, to help you track your website visitors and to see exactly what they’re doing on your website (where they’re coming from, what pages they’re visiting, how long they’re spending on your website, what actions they take and so on)
  • And the Google Search Console, which helps you manage and optimize your search engine optimization (like tracking your keywords and indexing new pages and blog posts) 

And as I mentioned before, they’re completely free. 

To install Google Analytics, go to their page here and sign up with your email. Once you’ve set up your account and account details, here’s what to do:

  • Measure WEB presence 
  • Add your website URL
  • Get the tracking code and add it to your website (you’ll find explanations on how to do so on the same page where the code is)

Next, the Google Search Console:

  • Add and verify the ownership of your website 
  • Check out Google’s quick guide to Search Console here 

And then there are your WordPress Settings:

  • Click on Settings from your left-hand side menu
  • General Settings: add your site title, tagline, time zone, etc.
  • Permalinks: decide the structure of your blog posts’ URLs; for example, I use the Post Name format (as it’s great for SEO: lilachbullock.com/post-name/ 
  • Go through the rest of the settings to select your preferences (writing, reading, media, etc.) – all very self-explanatory and easy to complete 

Step 7: Get a theme, design your WordPress blog and your blog pages

Now it’s time for the fun stuff – designing your new WordPress blog. However, it’s also the most time-consuming of these processes – depending on how much you want to customize your theme. 

However, you really don’t need to be a designer to be able to create a beautiful website – that’s the beauty of using WordPress.

All you need to start with, is to get a theme. 

There are plenty of free themes out there but the truth is, they’re not as beautiful or as complex and customizable as the premium ones so if you’re serious about your blog business, I do recommend you go for a premium theme. 

Here are some of the absolute best:

  • Elegant Themes (I’m currently using one of their themes for my website)

Once you’ve picked a theme and installed it on your website, go to Appearance in your WordPress dashboard and then click on Customize to start editing and customizing your website. 

Quick tip: to get a logo designed quickly, you can use Canva and design it yourself, with the help of your templates. I recommend getting their Pro account as well as that means you’ll have access to more free images and templates and you’ll need this tool a lot in your blogger journey (for creating blog imagery, banners, social media updates, ads and many more). 

Once you’ve designed your website, it’s time to add all of your blog pages, which you planned earlier in step 4, Sitemaps. 

To design your landing pages, you can use Landingi

Step 8: Optimize your blog for search engines 

Install the SEOPressor plugin on your website to easily optimize your pages for search engines:

  • Optimize each page (and later on, blog posts), for up to 3 different keywords 
  • Add H1 (headings) tags to each page 
  • Add page titles and meta descriptions

The best part is that even if you’re not that familiar with SEO yet, SEOPressor will give you specific suggestions on what to do to better optimize your website. 

Plus, it will also suggest more keywords to use throughout your page’s content, as well as in blog posts, to help you rank higher up in search results. 

Another extremely important aspect is your website’s speed.

Not only because it’s a better experience for your visitors, but also because it will help improve your SEO – Google puts great price on website speed so this should be a priority. 

To help, install the WPRocket plugin on your website as it’s one of the best plugins for improving website performance (minify CSS and HTML, page caching, image lazy loading and other useful features that help speed up your website). 

And that’s it – your blog is ready for launch! Here’s a wrap-up of all the steps you need to take to launch your blog:

  • Pick a domain name 
  • Get website hosting and 1-click WordPress install from Bluehost
  • Launch your WordPress blog 
  • Plan your blog’s sitemap
  • Install basic WordPress plugins
  • Install Google Analytics and the Google Search Console
  • Get a WordPress theme from Elegant Themes and start designing your blog
  • Optimize your blog for search engines using SEOPressor 

3: Prep your blog for launch with staple content and a powerful opt-in

In the last section, we talked about launching your blog. 

But before you go live and start promoting your blog, you need to populate it with content. 

You don’t need to write dozens of blog posts.

In fact, all you need to start with, is:

  • A powerful opt-in: offer your potential subscribers (and leads) a piece of content that provides real value – also known as a lead magnet – in order to build up your email list (as an example, the very email course you’re reading right now) 
  • 4 staple pieces of content: for example, 4 long how to guides or listicles that target keywords with very high search volumes (remember all the keyword research from the second email I sent you?)

Then, once you have this content, you’ll be all ready to take your blog live and start making money!

Step 1: Create your blog’s lead magnet 

Over the years, email marketing has been touted as “dead” – or dying – by numerous marketers. 

And yet…it’s still here. And it’s still one of the most effective marketing methods we have available – especially as bloggers. 

A good opt-in will help you generate email subscribers and that is an incredibly valuable resource. 

By growing your email list, you’ll be able to:

  • Boost your blog’s traffic: as you promote and share your blog posts to your list, you’ll drive more traffic back to your blog
  • Get more return visitors: return visitors are a sign of a healthy, thriving website 
  • Generate more leads: nurture your email subscribers with valuable content and personalized emails and turn them into leads and prospects for your blog business
  • Make more sales: use your list to sell your products and services 
  • Boost your social proof: a strong, active email list will prove to be a very valuable asset if you plan to work with brands (for example, brands who want product reviews on your blog) 

But in order to grow this email list, you need to provide your potential subscribers with a valuable resource. 

This is where the keyword research you did a couple of days ago (from the second email I sent you) will come in very handy. 

So pick up the list of keywords now and choose one of the keywords as the basis of your inspiration for this opt-in. 

The idea is that you’re going to use this opt-in to help solve one of your target audiences’ problems/needs. 

So, your opt-in needs to be:

  • Something that targets a wide enough audience (so nothing too niche) 
  • Content that helps solve a need of your target audience
  • Evergreen: in other words, it needs to be relevant over long periods of time (you don’t want to have to keep creating new content, but rather leverage your existing content with minimal updates over time)

Even better, to sweeten the deal and target an even wider audience, you can offer several useful pieces of content.

Here are some suggestions of content you can create for your opt-in:

  • A how-to guide/whitepaper/short e-book
  • An email course (like the one I’m sending to you) – basically, a short e-book in email format but filled with practical tips and advice that your subscribers can just pick and put into practice immediately 
  • Templates and checklists: for example, a social media calendar template, a press release template, a blog launch checklist and so on 
  • An online course or webinar 
  • Swipe files with content that your subscribers can just copy and paste to use (for example, years ago I used to have a headlines swipe file for bloggers, marketers and businesses who use blogs) 

And of course, you can mix and match these ideas to create an even more powerful opt-in. For example, an e-book and a template, an online course and access to several checklists and templates, an email course and a swipe file and so on. 

But before you start actually creating the content, ask yourself this: how will this help my target audience? Will they find it valuable? What need are they solving with this content?

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Once you’ve created your opt-in, you’ll need 2 tools to help you set it all up:

  • Convertkit: this is an email marketing tool built for bloggers and creators, and in my experience one of the easiest to use. You’ll use it to manage your email subscribers, send them regular broadcasts, set up automated email sequences and check your subscriber analytics (you can see who opens you emails, who clicks on the links and more) 
  • Optinmonster: this is the leading opt-in platform and absolute must-have. It will allow you to create opt-in forms for anywhere you want on your website (with lots of beautiful ready-made templates that you can use), create and promote special (and personalized) offers for your blog visitors and use exit-intent technology to capture leads before they leave your website (you know when a pop-up appears on a website when you’re trying to leave it? that’s it!) 

I’ve tested a lot of these tools over the year but these 2 are still my favourite – I’ve been using them for at several years now so I wholeheartedly recommend them. 

Once you get Optinmonster for your blog, you need to install the WordPress plugin (for free) as that will make the set-up much easier and you’ll be able to add your opt-in forms anywhere you want on your website. 

Step 2: Create 4 staple pieces of content for your blog

Once you’ve got your lead magnet all ready and set up, get started on your content. 

Remember, you don’t need to blog constantly in order to build a successful and scalable business. 

You just need a few staple pieces of content to start with – ones that target popular keywords in your niche so that they drive a lot of organic traffic – and then you’ll be able to relax on this front. 

Also, just as important, this content needs to be evergreen.

That means that it will stay relevant a few months from now too, and even years down the line – although you will have to make some changes regularly to keep it up-to-date.

Once you’ve got this content, you’ll simply need to:

  • Keep updating this content regularly: check everything is up-to-date and make updates (your readers and Google will both love this)
  • Write 1 new blog post every week (so just 4 new blog posts a month) 

But for now, let’s focus on your main content. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Pick 4 of the keywords you already researched: choose the ones that have the highest search volume out of your list 
  • Search for each of those keywords on google: what results appear on the first page? take the time to reach each 
  • Come up with ideas for those keywords – the goal here is to create something bigger and better than all the other first page results for those keywords (disregarding of course any Wikipedia/WikiHow-type sources); focus on how-to guides, long listicles and generally, long-form content that provides a lot of value. Basically, the most important thing to remember is this: your goal is to create better and longer content than the other first-page results
  • Come up with headline ideas based on your keywords and research – and always use the full keyword in your headline

When you start writing the content, here are the most important elements to keep in mind:

  • Use your keyword throughout: use it in your headline, in your sub-headlines, as well as within the body of your blog post (when you get SEOPressor for your website, it will tell you exactly what to do and make this process much easier)
  • Use sub-headings to break up your content and make it easier to read
  • Use bullet points – for the same reason as above! Plus, a lot of people will skim your content and this ensure they catch all the important information, even while skimming
  • Use plenty of visuals throughout your content (screenshots, blog graphics, videos) as they make reading easier and more interactive) – I use Canva as it’s one of the best and easiest to use design tools around and they have thousands of templates 
  • Make sure there are no errors before you publish (typos, grammar issues, complicated, hard-to-read sentences and so on) – use Grammarly to help as it catches a lot more errors than Word ever could and it’s so easy to identify errors and replace them (I honestly don’t know how I wrote before I had Grammarly – it must’ve taken me twice as long!) 

Once your blogs are ready to upload, follow these tips to help you optimize them for search engines:

  • Add a focus keyword: this is the main keyword for your blog post that search engines will use to understand what your content is about and where to place you in search queries
  • Add an SEO title (maximum of 60 characters): this is the title that people see when they find you in search results so it can be a little different to your blog’s actual headline, if you prefer. The goal here is to show potential readers exactly what they’ll get when they click on the link and to ensure that your keyword is included in the SEO title, as close as possible to the beginning 
  • Add a meta description (about 155-160 characters): this is the description that appears under any search result (if they have it, of course) and is used to explain what that page/content contains. Make sure it includes your keyword and that it clearly shows people what they’ll get that if they click on the link and read your blog post)
  • Optimize your URL slug: WordPress lets you change your URL as you want; try to keep it as short as possible (3-4 words maximum) and ensure your keyword is included (this is great practice in terms of SEO)

And that’s it – you don’t need to spend sleepless night writing content all the time to build a successful blog business. 

Just follow the tips and steps outlined here and you’re ready to go live. 

To sum up what we’ve discussed in this section:

  • Create a lead magnet/opt-in to help you build your email list as soon as you go live 
  • Get Convertkit to manage your subscribers and send them emails and broadcasts regularly
  • Get Optinmonster to add opt-ins throughout your website, as well as set up Exit-Intent pop-ups
  • Use keyword research to find 4 high-volume keywords for your niche
  • Create 4 staple pieces of content based on those 4 keywords 
  • Optimize each blog post for SEO using the SEOPressor WordPress plugin

4: How to drive traffic and scale your blog in 30 days 

In order to grow your blog, you need a good strategy to promote your blog and drive more targeted traffic. 

And that’s exactly what I want to show you in this email.  

I’m not going to go through all of the usual tactics you always hear (sharing your blog on social media and such) but instead I’m going to tell you all about the strategies that actually work. 

Strategies that you can put into practice right now and start scaling your blog immediately. 

Because quality traffic is important in order to monetize your blog; more traffic means:

  • More email subscribers 
  • Better domain authority and improved search rankings (if your blogs aren’t getting any traffic, Google has no reason to feature them in search results) 
  • More leads generated 
  • More money – whatever your monetization strategy is

However, I want to make it very clear here that it’s NOT about getting as much traffic as possible. 

It’s about getting quality traffic consistently so that you can keep scaling your blog and growing your income. 

That’s what you need to focus on – not so-called vanity numbers that ultimately don’t make any real difference to your bottom line. 

So, what are the best strategies that you should focus on right now to get your blog to generate upwards of 5,000 visitors, from the first month?

Focus on evergreen content

Whenever you create any type of content for your blog, try to ensure it’s evergreen. 

You might remember this from my previous email as well, but it’s definitely worth repeating. 

When you create evergreen content, content that stands the test of time and continues to be relevant months and even years down the line, it eliminates the need to constantly create new content. 

Plus, the longer your content is relevant, the more backlinks it will get, the more social shares and the more traffic. 

And that is amazing for SEO. 

Organic traffic: the most important traffic you’ll ever get

This is something that I’ve told you about before, several times. 

Each blog post you write needs to target a keyword with high search volumes. 

And even more so, your blog posts need to be bigger and better than all the other blog search results you get for that keyword.

Think of it this way; at the moment, you’re working on creating 4 staple blog posts that each target a specific keyword:

  • The first one gets about 10,000 searches per month
  • The second, 5,000 
  • The third, 6,500
  • And the fourth, 7,000

In total, that’s 28,500 searches every month. 

And recent data shows that about 31.7% of all clicks go to the first Google search results. 

In that case, that would mean that if you get the top spots just for these keywords, then you’re going to get at least 8,000 website visitors every month just from these 4 keywords/blog posts. 

And that’s highly targeted traffic. They’re searches coming from people who are genuinely interested in learning what YOU can show them. 

In other words, the large majority of them are potential leads for your business. 

And that’s HUGE. 

This is why SEO should be your number 1 focus. 

Even if I personally grew my blog on the back of my social media presence – Twitter, I still love you too, I promise! – the truth is, I was there from the beginning so that’s a big reason I was able to build such a big audience on social media and use it to drive thousands of visitors every month, just from Twitter. 

But social media is fickle – and it’s filled with so much content competing for people’s attention. 

But search engines are here to stay. And while algorithms might be changing frequently, SEO is still the best strategy for generating high-quality traffic consistently.   

So, if you haven’t already, get SEMRush to research keywords, research your competitors’ SEO strategy and create backlinking campaigns (which we’ll get to in a moment); plus, get the SEOPressor plugin for your blog to help you optimize your blog posts for search engines. 

Start your backlinking campaign

Backlinks – aka links from other blogs and websites that go to your homepage or blog pages – are extremely valuable. 

They help boost your SEO (Google looks for backlinks to decide how authoritative a website or page is) and they can help you get traffic directly too.

But the most important aspect is the SEO value. 

Backlinking is something that you should do constantly, every month, in order to drive as many backlinks as possible to your site. 

However, not just any links will do; you need to get links from quality websites, otherwise Google will penalise you (plus, they don’t count for much if the website is too small). 

So focus your efforts on getting backlinks from websites that have a Domain Authority of at least 30-40; as for the really big websites (top tier sites that have a Domain Authority of over 75), you can leverage guest blogging strategies to help you generate new, high-quality links every month. 

Here’s what you need to do. 

First, understand what you’re looking for; i.e. authoritative and relevant websites. 

You can find out how authoritative a site is by their:

  • Domain Authority – just google “domain authority checker” on google and you’ll find a bunch of free tools that you can use (look for websites with a DA of 30+) – or even better, use SEMrush to quickly look up any website (and even see their traffic and other interesting goodies)
  • Domain Rating – google “website authority checker” to find out and focus on blogs with a DR of 50+
  • Relevancy: getting links from just any website won’t work (Google caught on pretty quickly that people were abusing backlinking strategies and getting links from just any websites they could get); you need to focus on websites and pages that are related to the page or blog post you’re trying to promote 

And here are a few other tips for backlinking in 2020 that you need to keep in mind:

  • Links in the body of the text hold more value 
  • Creating profiles on various websites and forums and posting your links on there won’t work (and it might even be detrimental to your cause!)
  • Your link anchor text (i.e. the clickable text where your link resides) should not be identical to your link – this has been massively abused by websites, so Google might look at your matching anchor text/link as spammy. For example, if you were selling a social media tool and constantly using the anchor text “social media tool” to link to it, it might do more damage than good in the long run
  • Focus on “dofollow links” – basically, whenever a link is marked as rel=“nofollow”, google takes that as a link it shouldn’t take into consideration when ranking your page

Now, let’s talk backlinking strategies.

optinmonster

The Ultimate Guest blogging and Backlinking Blueprint

5000+ database of top blogs that accept guest posts, templates and emails to send pitches, checklists and more!

Strategy 1: Create amazing visual content 

Whenever someone uses a visual on their blog, that was created by someone else, they have to link back to the source. 

(and if they don’t, you can email them to let them know and get them to place the link)

So this is a really easy, quick way to generate some backlinks; here are some types of visual content you can create:

  • Interesting statistics about your industry
  • Diagrams and charts
  • Infographics (with statistics, factoids, tips, etc.)

Strategy 2: Email outreach backlinking strategies

Outreach campaigns are the easiest ways to generate large numbers and backlinks to your blog. 

And it’s so incredibly easy to do. 

  1. First, you need the content that you want people to link to 
  2. Look for relevant websites to get a link placement
  3. Then, you’ll need to find out their email addresses: use Snov.io to find them quickly (as you’ll need to find hundreds, even thousands of emails – you have to automate the process as much as possible or it will simply take much too long)
  4. Reach out to all of these bloggers using an outreach tool – as before, you need a tool to automate the process or it will take too long. Get a tool like Buzzstream and you’ll be able to send hundreds of personalized emails a day – trust me, it will make things so much easier for you

Keep in mind that these types of campaigns are all about the numbers. You won’t see results if you’re reaching out to a couple of people a day. 

Not only do you need a lot of links for this to work, but most of these contacts will probably not answer or take action. That’s why you need to email a lot of them, so that you’ll get a percentage of them to actually link to your content. 

Let’s discuss strategy. 

The easiest way to discover backlinking opportunities – and quality ones too! – is to find the websites that are already linking to your competitors but aren’t linking to you too.

To do this, get SEMrush and use their backlink gap tool – all you have to do is enter your blog URL along with up to 4 other competitors and it will tell you all the backlinks they have that you don’t. 

It’s really that easy. 

From there:

  • Separate all the big websites, the ones with high authority scores of over 85 (you can order the list by their score); for these ones, you’ll need a different strategy – a more personalized approach or, in most cases, you’ll need to guest post for them (so check to see if that is how they got the link as it usually is the case!)
  • Then with the “smaller” sites – the ones that have an authority score of under 85 – you can make a separate list to reach out a cold outreach campaign

Just from this strategy alone, you can potentially find hundreds of thousands of backlinking opportunities. 

Plus, you can take it even further and look up other similar blogs and websites from your niche – they don’t even have to be direct competitors. 

And it’s really that easy. 

All you need are a few tools:

  • SEMRush, to help you find these backlinking opportunities
  • Snov.io to help you find their emails faster
  • And Buzzstream to help you reach out to them at scale

Guest blogging on high-tier sites

The best backlinks – the ones that count the most weight in Google’s eyes – are those from high-tier sites: the most popular blogs in your niche. Think The Next Web, Inc., Forbes… those sites. 

Plus, those sites can even bring back some traffic directly – you can expect a few thousand clicks a month coming from these publications if you guest post for enough big publications and have published multiple articles. But, that takes time to build up. 

So, in order to build up your backlinks from high-tier sites, set yourself a monthly goal to pitch:

  • 5 high-tier websites a month with a DA of 85+
  • 10 medium-tier websites a month with a DA of 70 to 85

As for finding them, it’s super easy. 

You can start with my list of 5,000+ websites that accept guest posts, in over 35 niches (including business, marketing, finance, social media, food, parenting, pets and so many others). It’s the most up-to-date list you can find online: most others haven’t been updated in years (or are automated!) but this list is hand-picked and super up-to-date.

Or simply google your niche + “guest blogging guidelines”/”guest blogging”/”contributor guidelines”.

Then, check out their guidelines page – there, you’ll usually be able to see exactly what they expect from your pitch and your article (also, many of them now require to write the content first, then submit it).

To help with this process – as it does take time to write all of this content – you should get a freelancer to help. 

It might cost you, sure, but it will help you save a lot of time which can be better used elsewhere, for things that are difficult to outsource: monetizing your blog. 

Think of it this way: you’re the owner of this business. And this project is a part of your content marketing strategy. You can’t do it all yourself – you need to hire someone else to do it.
You can find bloggers and writers on platforms like Fiverr – I recommend you try to find someone for $0.10 per word (prices generally go up to $0.25 per word, but in my experience, you can find great writers for much less than that).

It will take some time to find the right fit – someone who not only writes well enough but that knows your industry and gets your style – but once you’ve found someone good, you’ll have a good collaborator you can rely on.  

Other strategies to consider

While SEO should be your main focus, that doesn’t mean you should rely on a single source of traffic. Quite the contrary in fact – you need multiple streams that you can rely on month after month. 

Here are the other strategies and platforms that you should add to your promotional strategy: 

  • Install the Social Warfare plugin on your website so that your readers can easily share your content 
  • Build up your social media presence and share your posts regularly (not just once, but repeatedly) – use a social media scheduling tool to schedule all of your content so that you only have to spend a few minutes a day on social media. If you don’t want to deal with that, get my social media calendar here – it has over 500+ ready-made images and updates for 12 different categories (including business, marketing, finance, food, parenting, pets, and many others)
  • Join relevant social media groups and blog sharing groups – there are quite a few good ones on Facebook – and if you haven’t already, join my Facebook group here
  • Promote your content to your email list (especially when you have something new and exciting) – use ConvertKit to manage your list and easily send email broadcasts 
  • Join blogging communities to boost social shares (basically, you’re getting other bloggers and influencers to share your content with their audience)

And don’t forget to check your analytics regularly. 

Find out where your traffic is coming from. Which blogs get the most traffic. This will help you see what channels to focus on – and what other content to write in the future. 

To sum it all up, here’s a wrap up of everything we discussed in this section:

  • Focus on creating evergreen content
  • Get SEOPressor to properly optimize your blog and SEMRush to find backlinking opportunities
  • Create visual content that other bloggers will want to link back to
  • Start a backlinking outreach campaign using Snov.io (to find emails at scale) and Buzzstream (to send thousands of personalized emails automatically)
  • Start a guest blogging campaign: target 5 tier sites every month (DA of 85+) and 10 mid-tier sites (DA of 70-85)
  • Get a freelance writer from Fiverr to help you create content at scale 
  • Add other platforms and strategies to your blog promotion strategy (social media, blogging communities, social media groups, email broadcasts, etc.)

5: How to start making money blogging 

In this section, I’m going to talk to you about your options. 

Because every niche is different so there’s no size-fits-all strategy. 

BUT

The tactics are the same. Some just work a little better than others depending on your niche.  

Previously, we talked about:

  • How to pick the right niche and a lucrative audience for your blog
  • How to create and design your blog – use Bluehost to get blog hosting and 1-click WordPress install
  • How to prep your blog for launch and what content you need in order to succeed 
  • How to drive traffic to your blog and keep scaling it  

And now that you know all of this, you’re ready to build a monetization plan for your blog so that you can start making money and build a real business out of it.

How much money can you make from blogging?

When you target the right niche and you create great products and services to sell, the possibilities are endless. 

In fact, there are numerous examples of bloggers who make tens of thousands of dollars each month. 

I’m one of them. 

However, one of the things that you need to understand about blogging is that you need to have multiple income streams. 

What’s more, your monetization plan should include both:

  • Recurring income streams – income that you can rely on every month so that you’re not worried all the time whether you’ll be making enough money that month; for example, recurring consulting clients or freelancer clients that you have a contract with 
  • Passive income streams – income that you generate passively (this is income that tends to fluctuate considerably every month); for example, sales from your online course or e-book or your affiliate marketing earnings. 

In other words, your monetization plan should look something like this:

(you can use this as a blueprint for your own plan)

  • Product 1: a cheap, low-entry product that you can sell to your readers and email list (for example, an online course or an e-book) 
  • Product 2: another, more expensive product that you can sell, as well as upsell to those who bought your cheaper, low-entry product (for example, a bigger online course, online retreats, etc.) 
  • Service 1: a high-end recurring service, such as consulting for businesses 
  • Service 2: another recurring service, such as freelancer services (blog writing services, SEO services, web design, and so on)
  • Affiliate marketing: since you’re already talking and writing about products and services that you use and recommend to your readers, you can leverage affiliate marketing to make more money every month 

But in order to start making money from your blog, you need:

  • Amazing SEO: you need to target the right keywords 
  • Quality, consistent traffic (5,000+ every month and more as your blog grows older)
  • A good backlinking strategy – it improves your SEO, your authority and your traffic 
  • A really strong opt-in/lead magnet to get people into your list 


As for your sales funnel, it needs to look something like this:

So, what exactly are your monetization options?

It all starts with your opt-in

When you’re just starting out and you don’t have the traffic, the email list and the clout to sell enough products, you have an easy and quick solution: building a powerful opt-in/lead magnet. 

I won’t go into too much detail now because I’ve talked at length about this in previous emails, so I’ll focus solely on the monetization aspect and how you can leverage your opt-in to make money even from the first month of blogging. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Create your lead magnet (refer back to email number 3 to learn more)
  • Get Optinmonster to set up opt-in forms throughout your website and boost your sign-ups (this is what I used for my own opt-ins as well)
  • Get Convertkit to set up and send email sequences automatically once people have signed up (the email you’re reading right now has been sent with Convertkit’s help – it’s built for bloggers so it has all the features you need to send broadcasts and personalized, automated email sequences)
  • Send a personalized email sequence to all of your new subscribers, designed to help nurture and convert them 

Step 1: Start with a low entry product 

The best place to start – as it’s something that doesn’t require a big investment on your side and it will allow you to start generating (passive) income as soon as you start getting some quality traffic, even in the first month of blogging – is to create a low-ticket item: a digital product that is cheap and targets a large part of your audience. 

 This can be:

  • An online course (written or video)
  • A webinar – you can use WebinarJam to create it and monetize it 
  • An e-book
  • Templates, checklists and other resources (you might need to package them together to offer more value)
  • Ready-made editorial calendars that bloggers and businesses can use for their own blogs 

Step 2: Develop a service or product to generate recurring income

As I mentioned earlier in this email, your monetization strategy should include a service (or a few different services) so that you can have recurring income every month that you can rely on. 

Here are the best options to consider for your blog:

  • High-end consulting services: you can make $5,000 per client, per month with a high-end consulting service (however, you’ll need to target businesses for this as they have the spending power to pay for such services)
  • Coaching and mentoring services: likewise, you can coach and mentor people on a recurring basis to help them achieve better results in their lives, their careers and their businesses 
  • Build a membership solution: in order to generate recurring income from digital products, you’ll need to set up a membership; for example, you can build a membership site (you can use Wild Apricot to create your site) whereby people pay a monthly fee to get access to premium content or create an online course membership (and get people to pay for your course which lasts for several months) 
optinmonster

Done-for-you social media images: 500+ images in 12 niches

Save hours every week and remove all the stress with these 500+ made-for-you social media images + a 12-month social media calendar.
12 different niches available, each with its own unique images: business, marketing, finance, food, fashion, fitness, travel, DIY, parenting, pets, photography and automotive.

Step 3: Start promoting affiliate products and services 

This is an amazing way to generate passive income every month; however, you do need to have a strong email list, as well as consistent traffic (at least 2,000 visitors a month to start with.)

So while you can start with affiliate marketing when you want, it will take a month or 2 until you can get your blog to a stage where it’s getting consistent quality traffic and you can start making money from these affiliate sales. 

That said, once you do have the traffic, the potential is AMAZING. 

In fact, you can make upwards of $10,000 every month.

That’s why you should put a very big focus on your opt-in and your SEO because that’s how you get quality traffic and email subscribers. 

So if you haven’t already, get SEMRush to help you find backlinking opportunities and research keywords, and SEOPressor to help you optimize your blog quickly and efficiently, so that you can improve your rankings and generate more organic traffic (plus, you don’t even need to be an SEO expert if you have these tools to help). 

Step 4: Offer freelancing services

Another great way to make money from your blog and generate another recurring income, is to offer various freelancing services. 

You have multiple options here:

  • Content writing services: bloggers and brands need content and in many cases, it’s cheaper for them to outsource these tasks – and that’s where you come in 
  • Search engine optimization services: these are in high-demand across all industries so if you know SEO you can offer it as a recurring monthly service: local SEO, on-page SEO, backlinking campaigns (off-page SEO), technical SEO and voice search SEO 
  • Web design and web development services: have you built an amazing website? You can sell this service for others too: advertise your services on Fiverr to find web design and web development clients  

Step 5: As your blog grows, so will your monetization opportunities

Here are the best tactics to consider once you’re blog starts generating upwards of 5,000 visitors a month:

  • Sponsored content: brands and agencies will pay you to have their content and links featured on your blog 
  • Influencer services: likewise, as your blog grows in popularity, brands will want to leverage your influence in a variety of ways: social media campaigns, banners on your website, features on your blog (about the brand) and so on
  • Podcasting: you can create a podcast and monetize it by offering sponsorship opportunities for brands (you can make anywhere from $10 to $25 per 1,000 listens per podcast episode as per industry standards)
  • Product reviews: when you have enough traffic and a good email list, brands are more than willing to pay to be featured on your website – and a product review from a relevant blogger provides them with a lot of value. You can sell product reviews (whereby you write them, feature them on your blog and promote them on your channels) for anywhere from $500 (depending on the popularity of your blog)

Considering your niche and your skills and knowledge, use these tactics to put together your own sales funnel and monetization plan for the first 3 months of your blogging journey. 

And next up, we’ll be discussing how to get more blog subscribers and how to monetize them so that you can increase your blog earnings:

6: How to grow your email list and monetize your subscribers 

So far, we’ve gone through a lot;

  • How to pick the right niche and a lucrative audience for your blog
  • How to create and design your blog – use Bluehost to get blog hosting and 1-click WordPress install
  • How to prep your blog for launch and what content you need in order to succeed 
  • How to drive traffic to your blog and keep scaling it  
  • How to monetize your blog and build a monetization plan and sales funnel 

This section is all about email subscribers: how to get them and how to monetize them. 

I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again: your email list is one of your most valuable assets for your blog business. 

That’s because you can use it multiple ways:

  • To help drive traffic back to your blog 
  • To generate and nurture leads 
  • To promote your products, your services and your affiliate products and boost your sales 
  • And finally, you can use it as an asset when working with brands: for example, when getting product review clients 

First, you’ll need the right tools to help. 

Here’s what I use (and wholeheartedly recommend):

  • Optinmonster – this is one of the most powerful (and very easy to use too) opt-in and lead generation tool. Their templates look great and are highly customizable and easy to add anywhere on your website and they have a plethora of templates to help you generate as many leads and subscribers as possible (plus, they also have a WordPress plugin which makes things even easier)
  • Convertkit – an email marketing tool built for bloggers which you’ll need in order to manage all of your subscribers and send them email broadcasts as well as personalized email sequences 

The first thing you need is a main lead magnet/opt-in. We’ve already discussed this at length in the previous emails though so I won’t spend too long on it here. 

But here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Your main lead magnet needs to provide a lot of value to your audience: how-to guides, e-books, online courses, email courses, templates, etc. 
  • It needs to target a large portion of your audience 

Another highly effective tactic is to create 2 different lead magnets and test them both to see which one generates the most subscribers. 

Once you have your lead magnet/s ready, you’ll design your opt-in. 

This should be featured:

  • On your homepage, displayed as prominently as possible
  • As a pop-up, after a visitor has stayed on a certain period of time on your website (for example, 60 or 90 seconds)
  • On your sidebar, so that it’s visible throughout your blog/website
  • On your blog pages – for example, either at the end of your blog posts or even inline, in the middle of your blogs, as a pop

With Optinmonster, you can create several types of campaigns, including pop-ups and full screen opt-ins:

Plus, you have access to dozens of templates, for all kinds of purposes, even based on specific goals (such as growing your email list and for redirecting your traffic to an important landing page you’re promoting).

Now, I want to show you how you can leverage all of these templates and opt-ins to boost your lead generation/number of subscribers (beyond, of course, the aforementioned strategies):

Strategies for boosting your email subscribers

  • Use exit-intent technology: basically, Optinmonster can tell when a visitor is about to leave – and then, displays a popup designed to get them to convert (this is an extremely useful feature as it basically helps you capture leads that would otherwise be lost, unless they keep coming back to your website) – you can use it to promote your main lead magnet, a special offer like an online course or webinar, or even an affiliate product that you’re promoting (in other words, it can also help boost your sales!)
  • Add “downloadables” to your blog posts: this is a tactic that has helped me generate thousands of new subscribers in just a couple of months. And it’s SO easy to do: just turn that article into a PDF and add an inline opt-in in the body of your blog post, using Optinmonster. To sweeten the deal, you can also include some useful related resources, such as templates and checklists. 

*Quick tip: Use Canva to pretty-up your PDF and add your branding throughout 

  • Gate your content: another easy and quick way to generate more email subscribers is to “gate” certain content (a blog post/piece of content that is very popular and provides a lot of value) – basically, the idea is that you’re blocking access to that piece of content with an opt-in so that only people who subscribe to your list can access it 
  • Create a 2-step opt-in: in other words, you get people to click on a link which then takes them to the actual opt-in. For example, you could have a call to action button urging people to access your amazing opt-in and then they’re taken to actual opt-in so that they can sign up. The reasoning behind this strategy is that once people click that link, they’re more likely to go through with it and sign up – it’s a simple psychological tactic 
  • Experiment with A/B tests: Optinmonster allows you to easily and automatically test different wording and colours on your forms and call-to-action buttons so that you can see which versions generate the most conversions. This is something that I recommend you do with all of your opt-ins because you’re likely to discover variants that perform A LOT better, which then allows you to constantly optimize your opt-ins and generate more and more subscribers for your list 
  • Don’t ask for too much information: the more fields you add to your opt-in, the fewer conversions you’ll make; why? Quite simply, because most people don’t want to give out too much information online. So keep it simple: only ask for the information you need. For lead magnets, it’s probably best to keep it at 2 fields only: name and email address

Now, let’s talk monetization:

Strategies for monetizing your email subscribers

Getting people to join your email list is only the first step. 

What do you do once you have them? And most importantly, how do you monetize them? 

First of all, you need to get Convertkit

As I mentioned before, it’s an email marketing tool for bloggers that connects with your Optinmonster account so that as soon as someone sign-ups to your email list, you can start reaching out to them and converting them. 

Here’s what you can do with it:

  • Manage your subscribers and segment your list so that you can send them personalized messages – this simple strategy can make a huge difference to your success, as you’ll be able to convert more people when you send them personalized messaging and offers that are highly relevant to them (for example, you’d send different emails to business owners vs. bloggers, or different offers based on their location, and so on)
  • Schedule and send email broadcasts to all of your subscribers (or certain segments)
  • Set up email sequences, whereby you’re sending your list a series of personalized emails, at specific moments (for example, once you’ve signed up to my opt-in, I used Convertkit to help me send you the introduction email, as well as this email course at specific times – one new email every day)
  • Set up automated emails: for example, if someone clicked on a specific link, you can then send another personalized email to move them along your sales funnel 

Once you’ve set up Convertkit (which by the way, is super easy to use and set up, especially compared to many of the other solutions on the market), you can start monetizing your list. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Start with a thank you/introductory email: set up an automation so that every time someone signs up to your list, they get an introductory email where you thank them for signing up and introduce them to yourself and your blog; for example, you can link to your most important pieces of content to direct them there, tell them a little about yourself, and explain what they’ll be getting in your future emails (but don’t overdo it with the selling yet!)
  • Create an email sequence designed to convert: it’s very difficult to sell to someone who only just joined your list and (probably) isn’t that familiar with you yet. That’s why, you should set up a drip campaign for your new subscribers, designed to help nurture them and build up their trust in you. And the best way to do so is to offer them lots of value: send them useful tips, link to other useful free resources, and generally, try to offer them as much value as possible to get them to trust you and want to work with you 
  • Use A/B testing: like with opt-ins before, you should leverage A/B testing to see what performs best; and luckily, it takes seconds to set up A/B testing with Convertkit. In terms of what to test, start with your subject lines to see which ones generate the most opens; then, you can also test the body of your emails to see which variants get more click-throughs and responses 
  • Promote a low-ticket offer: once your subscribers get to know you better and they start to trust you, you can start monetizing them by promoting one of your low-ticket products (for example, an online course or webinar, your e-book and so on)  – to sweeten the deal for them, make a special offer for email subscribers only 
  • Upselling: once someone buys one of your low-ticket items, you should try to upsell them and get them to buy your other products or services; for example, if someone bought one of your webinars, you can then send them a sequence of emails to get them to pay for your online course series 
  • Promote your affiliate products: are you using affiliate marketing to monetize your blog? In that case, you can leverage your email list to grow your sales: send your list emails with useful tips and tricks, how-to guides and the like (basically, you want to provide them with real value!) and promote affiliate products wherever relevant 

Ready to grow your email list and get thousands of new subscribers?

Then follow these tips:

  • Get Optinmonster and Convertkit to generate email subscribers and send them personalized emails 
  • Create lead magnets that offer value to your target audience and add opt-ins in strategies places throughout your website
  • Once someone signs up to your list, send them an introductory email + an email sequence designed to help them convert
  • Start monetizing your email list with a low-ticket offer 
  • Upsell your list once they buy from you 
  • Promote your affiliate products and services to your list to generate more sales 
optinmonster

The Ultimate Guest blogging and Backlinking Blueprint

5000+ database of top blogs that accept guest posts, templates and emails to send pitches, checklists and more!

7: How to scale your blog business and generate upwards of $10k every month

So far, we’ve gone through a lot;

  • How to pick the right niche and a lucrative audience for your blog
  • How to create and design your blog – use Bluehost to get blog hosting and 1-click WordPress install
  • How to prep your blog for launch and what content you need in order to succeed 
  • How to drive traffic to your blog and keep scaling it  
  • How to monetize your blog and build a monetization plan and sales funnel 
  • How to generate more email subscribers and monetize them

By now, you have all the information you need to pick your niche, build your blog and start making money out of it. 

Now, you need to make a business plan to ensure that you can keep growing and scaling your blog business, so that you can go from a few thousand dollars earned in the first couple of months, to over $10,000 a month (and keep growing and growing from there):

  • Selling one-off products 
  • Upselling and cross-selling 
  • Ensuring at least one monthly recurring income stream
  • Building up enough income streams 
  • Building up passive income streams 
  • And constantly planning for growth – i.e. thinking like a true business owner, not just a blogger!

If you want your blog to keep growing, this is extremely important. Only those who think and plan like business owners truly make it in the end – they’re the ones who make $20k and even as much as $40k a month (although there are plenty of examples of bloggers who make it even further!)

So how do you ensure your blog keeps growing?

How to scale your blog like a start-up business

For the first 3 months of your blog, use the plan outlined in emails 1 through 6 of this email course; that means:

  • Use Bluehost to build your blog: you get 67% off and 1-click WordPress install
  • Create 4 staple blog posts, optimized for high-volume keywords so that you can get targeted organic traffic every month
  • Optimize your blog for SEO, using SEMRush and SEOPressor 
  • Start a backlinking and a guest blogging campaign to generate quality backlinks for your blog and boost your SEO and traffic – use Fiverr to find freelance writers to help you save time and create enough content every month 
  • Create a high-value, targeted lead magnet and use Optinmonster to create and add opt-ins throughout your website
  • Create an email sequence using Convertkit to help nurture your leads and subscribers 
  • Create a variety of products and services, both low-ticket and high-ticket to help you monetize your traffic and your subscribers 

Once you do all of that – and ensure that you create quality products and services – you’re well on your way to making good money on your blog. But you need to put in the work, not just create a few pieces of content, sign up for a couple of affiliates and hope for the best. 

But if you do follow these tips and advice to the letter, you’ve pretty much mastered the secret to building a successful blogging business. 

But what next?

Where do you go from here and ensure that you’re constantly growing?

Update your blog regularly

The simple fact of the matter is, you don’t need to constantly create new content. You don’t need to blog every day to be successful. 

What you need to do is create a few staple pieces of content and regularly update them to ensure they’re up-to-date and still offering value – and that they’re still better than your competitors (i.e. all those other search results people get on the first google page!) 

From that point on, you can blog a few times a month – and that’s it. 

But whenever you write a new blog, keep this in mind:

  • It needs to target a relevant keyword that has a high search volume
  • It needs to provide real value to your target audience
  • It needs to help you get results: more subscribers, more leads, more conversions.

Every time you create a new blog post, ask yourself this:

  • What does this piece of content help me achieve? More traffic? More leads? Is it a trending subject right now that can help me make more sales? 
  • What do my readers get out of it?
  • Can I use this to sell? 

Just remember this, you’re a business; and a business who knows their stuff will never produce content just for the sake of it. 

After all, you’re losing resources (time, money) so if you’re not getting enough in return, there’s no point in creating content. 

Focus on your subscribers

If you want your blog business to keep growing, then your email list needs to grow along with it. 

Think of it this way: the more subscribers you get, the more people you have to sell to. The more people you can nurture into becoming your paying customers. 

Plus, you get the added benefit of growing your audience and your traffic – and that helps grow your influence, your domain authority and your search engine rankings. 

So, don’t set it and forget it. 

You need to constantly update your primary lead magnet, create new one lead magnets, and use the strategies outlined in the previous email from this course to keep getting more email subscribers. 

Your blog growth plan: create multiple income streams

The biggest “secret” to blogging success is to set up multiple income streams

However, you can’t just do it all from the first month. Instead, you need to plan your growth ahead of time and create new products and services as your blog – and your audience – grows. 

So open up email 5 (the one where we discussed all the different monetization options you have), pick up a pen and paper and star planning:

Month 1: 

While it is possible to start making money from the first month of being in business, the truth is that at this stage you should focus most of your attention on growing your blog. 

Now, it’s all about:

  • Building up your blog traffic
  • Improving your search engine rankings 
  • Signing up for relevant affiliate programs (it can take some time to get approved so it’s a good idea to start as soon as possible – but first, you need to have your blog up and running)
  • And perhaps most importantly, growing your email list – if you haven’t already, get Optinmonster here to create your opt-ins and Convertkit here to manage your email subscribers and start sending them personalized emails automatically

That being said, as soon as you start getting email subscribers signing up, you can also start selling to them. 

Since you’re just starting out, it will be difficult to sell high-ticket items at this stage; you need to build up their trust and show your value first. 

That’s why, in this first month, you should create and sell low-ticket items; for example: 

  • Paid webinars
  • Online courses (save the online course series for upselling, later on)
  • E-books
  • Templates and checklist packages 

Another thing you can do at this stage, especially if you want to start making money quickly, is to look for freelancing clients; this can be for blog writing services (and other writings tasks, such as website copywriting, sales copy, email copy and so on), SEO services, web design and web development – depending, of course, on your skills and knowledge. 

To find clients for your freelancing services, sign up to Fiverr – it’s super easy and you can get started at any time. 

It will take some time to find better-paying freelancing gigs, but this is a great way to start making some extra money and even further develop your skills in the process. 

Month 2:

Now that your blog is starting to grow and you’ve started to generate some email subscribers, it’s time to think forward and start developing new income streams. 

Here are my suggestions on the next steps to take in the second month:

  • Start focusing more on affiliate marketing: sign up for more affiliate programs and start creating content to help you promote them and boost your sales (create useful listicles and how-to guides, create downloadable resources and new opt-ins, send emails to your list with useful tips and advice, along with your product/service recommendations)
  • Develop a service or product that will help you generate a monthly recurring income: coaching and mentoring, high-end consulting services, an online course series, a membership solution (i.e. access to multiple digital resources for a monthly recurring fee)
  • Create a podcast (optional, but a great way to grow your audience and make more money): you can make money through podcasting with sponsorships; plus, it’s a good way to grow your blog audience in the process
  • Keep growing your list: don’t forget about your list – follow my tips from the previous email to keep growing your list and experiment with new lead magnets and opt-ins if you’re not generating enough subscribers 

Month 3:

By the third month, your blog should really be starting to grow: you’ll have a steady stream of traffic, a healthy list of subscribers and you’ll start generating good money from your various products and services. 

But you’ve only just started – there’s so much more you can achieve at this stage. 

Here’s what to do in the 3rd month to keep scaling your blog business: 

  • Develop an online course series: this is one of the best monetization options when it comes to building a scalable business model; there’s a huge audience out there waiting to learn new skills and if you have what it takes to teach them, you can make a lot of money by creating a series of online courses. However, it can be difficult to join and commit to this if you don’t have their trust. That’s why, you’ll be more successful from the third month onwards, once you have a good followership/list of subscribers – plus, you can upsell your series to those who bought your low-ticket item
  • Sales outreach: as the months go on, so does the importance of getting recurring clients for your various services (consulting, freelancing) – start reaching out directly to brands that you want to work with, connect with marketing agencies that will pay you for your content writing services, social media marketing, SEO services, and so on, and continue looking for freelancing clients 
  • More affiliate marketing: affiliate marketing has huge potential; learn from your wins and losses, see which products sell and which don’t, identify the best platforms for promoting your affiliate products (email, how to guides, blog posts, listicles, etc.) and optimize your strategy accordingly 
  • Offer influencer/blogger services: as your blog grows, you’ll be able to offer sponsored content opportunities, product reviews for relevant brands; influencer campaigns for brands, on your blog and social media 

And don’t forget that EVERY month, you should also keep working on building up your blog; set yourself targets to follow every month:

  • find and email 500+ relevant websites per month as part of your backlinking campaigns
  • Guest post for 5 high-tier websites in your niche with a DA of 85+
  • Guest post for 10 mid-tier sites with a DA of 70 to 85
  • Find 2 new high-volume keywords to target 

Also, EVERY month, you need to set yourself clear objectives to reach – this will help keep you focused so that you can grow your blog with each new month that passes; for example:

  • Traffic increase target
  • How many new subscribers you want to generate
  • Search rankings targets for each of your keywords
  • Sales targets for each of your products and services 

Conclusion

Building an online business is a lot of work – but it can be done. 

With this guide, my aim was to give you all the step-by-step instructions you need in order to start a business. And if you follow these steps – no skipping! – you’ll be one (or actually, multiple!) steps closer to achieving your dream business. 

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Author:

Lilach Bullock

Published:

13 Aug, 2020

Categories:

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