A Step by Step Guide on How to Launch a Profitable Blog

In collaboration with HostGator. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Seventh and Oak!

Launch-a-profitable-blog-Seventh-and-Oak
 

Blogging has been a very important part of my personal growth and when I’m not working my day job, I’m creating content for Seventh and Oak. Whether it’s exploring the intricacies of home décor or sharing updates on my day to day shenanigans, I absolutely love hitting ‘Publish’ and revealing pieces of me to the world.

Though I’m still ways out from where I intend to be, I’ve been reflecting on how far I’ve actually come. My blogging journey has been one of beginning, stopping, beginning (again), creating traction, stopping (again) and beginning (all over again).

No matter what, I’ve always found myself circling back to blogging because it has truly been a source of joy, something I could work on for hours on end.  Through my journey as a blogger, there have been a few things I picked up and though I don’t claim to be an expert, the most important advice I would give my former newbie-blogger self, is to start right.

Starting right means first taking the time to plan and figure out WHY you want to become a blogger. Today, there are numerous blog posts on “How to Start you Blog in One Day” (some even say 1 hour), which I don’t necessarily agree with.

If you intend to create a blog of long term value, starting with WHY and drafting a plan is not simply a luxury, but a necessity.

Here are a few checkpoints that could assist in mapping out your journey:  

  1. Find out WHY

  2. Decide on a niche

  3. What's in a name?

  4. Make a list of ideas

  5. Choose your hosting service/ Select a blogging platform

  6. Pick a theme and customize to suit your brand

  7. These Pages are Essential

  8. Protect yourself legally

  9. Create engaging content

  10. Launch your blog and Promote! Promote!! Promote!!!

Find out WHY

I published a blog post recently that also highlighted the importance of beginning with a WHY in mind . Though you could easily decide to become a blogger in a split second, having no underlying motivation to fuel your commitment can transform your blogging adventure from dream to nightmare.

So, if you’ve ever considered becoming a blogger, what do you plan to achieve through your blog? Do you want to provide readers with useful tips and information or inspire your audience? Are you trying to promote a business or share your creativity? Or do you simply want to make some money?

Once you've clarified why, the remaining steps become a lot less tedious.

Decide on a niche

There are as many interests as there are individual personalities and because of that, a TON of niches on the web. Though it could be tough, it’s very important to figure out what you want your blog to focus on.

I would suggest picking two to three related niches and sticking to them, for example, say you’re a travel blogger, your audience would probably be shocked if you publish a post about gardening tools (extreme, but you get my point).

In addition, I'd advise selecting niches you are personally interested in else coming up with ideas and creating engaging content may prove difficult in the long run.

If your sole motivation is to make profit without focusing on a niche or targeting specific audiences, your blog would sooner or later morph into a scrap pile readers have to sort through to get information. And no one likes to be given extra, unnecessary work.

My goal for Seventh and Oak is to have it be the go-to source of inspiration for all things decor, life and style - irrespective of budget or location. The content I publish is frequently inspired by both my daily activities and interests.  

In summary, give yourself a chance to explore your strengths, interests and passions. Maybe somewhere, at the point where these three intersect, you would discover what would be the bedrock of your blog.

Start-a-profitable-blog-SeventhandOak.jpg

What's in a name?

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet…”

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

Even as Juliet's romantic soliloquy tugs at our heartstrings, it's pretty bad advice for bloggers. When choosing a name for your blog, you want to think Branding and Differentiation. The three guidelines I keep in mind are:

  • The blog name should be easy to pronounce and remember.

  • It should project what your blog is about

  • It should be capable of attracting visitors.

The majority of bloggers are creatives who want a conduit to share their mind with the world, so get your creative juices flowing and come up with a name that has your own pizzazz. The possibilities are endless – mix up whole words (WordPress), misspell words (Reddit), use your full name or even your nickname!

Ultimately,  you should choose a name you're confident in, that ideally wouldn't require changes down the line.

When I started this blog, it was called ‘My Base Space’ primarily because I lived in a basement apartment and wanted to share décor ideas I implemented to transform my apartment.  I soon realized that was narrow and somewhat selfish thinking.

I mean, what was stopping me from discussing a wider variety of decor ideas? It was going to take the same amount of effort. That's how ‘Seventh and Oak’ was born. I wanted a name that wasn't limited to my personal space, a name that encompassed the niches I chose to focus on - decor, life and style.

Once you've chosen a unique, available brand name,  you can get creative with your brand colors, typography and mood. Don't fret if you don’t have any graphic design skills. Platforms like Canva or Design Wizard are great for creating cool starter templates.


Make a list of ideas

Someone I know always emphasized the importance of writing ideas down. “But I have it all in my mind”, I'd say and he would counter with “But what if you lost your mind?”. Lists have been very important to me because they've been a way to organize the chaos in my mind.

I'm sure by now, you probably have a few ideas about the content you want to publish on your new blog. Make a list of these ideas and begin to do some research on each item.

Personally, I leverage Google’s keyword planning tool and Google trends to help focus my ideas into valuable content that aligns with what my target audience is interested in.

Related: 7 Proven Ways to Becoming a Better Blogger

Start-a-profitable-blog-SeventhandOak2.jpg

Choose your hosting service/ select a blogging platform

Thanks to the rapid growth of tech, there are so many platforms you could possibly use to launch your blog. Some are free while others require a financial investment. If you want to own a successful blog, I would suggest avoiding the free platforms simply because they come with many creative restrictions.

WordPress is one of the most easy to use tools for content management because it is extremely user friendly, from installation to navigating the interface. If you don’t have any coding knowledge and are not looking to hire a designer, I suggest a drag and drop platform like Squarespace.

Once your niche, name and CMS tool have been decided, it's time to select a hosting service. HostGator is one of the most beginner-friendly and cost effective choices in the market.

Most people like to begin with a URL that looks similar to ‘ www.yourname.wordpress.com’, (I know I did), but I would advise to find a self hosting service for the following reasons:

  • Having a URL with your blog name looks a lot more professional than one that ends with wordpress.com.

  • It would help improve your search engine rankings.

  • Your audience can better identify you, especially when there is a consistency in your brand name across all social media platforms. (Bonus: You can even get an email with your domain name in it)

  • Moving all of your content in the future can be a huge pain.

Okay, back to selecting a hosting platform. I recommend getting your blog started with HostGator. To date, I have tried multiple web hosting providers, and Hostgator tops the list. Here’s why:

  • Package prices are affordable

  • Processing times are quick and painless

  • Setting up is fairly simple

Interested in signing up for Hostgator? Use code ‘SEVENTHOAK’ for 25% off!

Signing up

Visit Hostgator.com and click on ‘Get Started’. This will show you the various plans to choose the one that will most likely fit your needs.

On this page you’ll find three options – hatchling, baby or business plans. I went for the hatchling plan that comes with one free domain, unmetered bandwidth and a free SSL certificate.

When it’s time to renew after a year, I might upgrade to either the baby or business plan as my needs for my blog would have changed.

Start-a-profitable-blog-Hosting-Packages.png

See how HostGator compares to the competition..

Start-a-profitable-blog-competitive-comparison.png

Now you’re on the checkout page. Be sure to fill in all the necessary information for steps 1 – 3.

Step 4: Under ‘additional services’, you’ll see options for purchasing things like protecting your site from hackers, getting a professional email address, backing up your content or improving search ranking results. Checking one or all of the boxes is up to you. I left all of them unchecked in my case.

Step 5: Enter code ‘SEVENTHOAK’ for 25% off!

Step 6: Review your order details

Step 7: Place your order

Once completed, you will be shown a confirmation page.

You’re all done! See, that wasn’t so bad.

Now the fun part begins – installing WordPress and creating wonderful content that will bring in the $$.

Your confirmation email should contain details on logging in to your cPanel (how you control the back end of your site).

Start-a-profitable-blog-Control Panel.png

When you log in to your cPanel for the first time, it may seem overwhelming, but you don’t need to worry about most of the features right now. Your main focus should be installing WordPress.

The more you login and navigate your dashboard, the more you’ll familiarie yourself with its features and the possibilities they offer.

Q: Would you like to see a roundup of my recommended Wordpress plugins?

Pick a theme and customize to suit your brand

Buying a theme that suits your brand is important because it’ll make your blog feel like home. Paying for a theme prevents your blog from looking generic and you have the freedom to customize however you want.

If you’re not used to WordPress, you can start with a free theme and once comfortable, get a premium one. WordPress has a lot of free themes – just go to ‘Appearance’ ⟶ ‘Themes’ on your dashboard.

Theme Forest has a wide collection of themes designed by creative for you. Browse and pick the one that best suits your blog. When you decide to purchase a theme, be ready to stick to it so you don’t have to change your blog’s appearance every few months.

TIP: Before launching your blog, make sure it’s on ‘Coming Soon’ mode to avoid displaying an incomplete site to your audience. I used the free SeedProd WordPress plugin while I was preparing my blog for launch.

You can always customize what your audience views once they visit your blog. It could either be your logo or something as simple as ‘Website coming soon’ will suffice until you’re ready to launch.


These Pages are Essential

There are a few important pages you need to have on your site’s navigation menu. I like to put myself in my reader’s shoes and ask, “what is appealing about this  blog?”.

My goal is to help them answer this question by guiding them through the blog as seamlessly as possible. We don't want people to get frustrated and leave your blog without truly exploring its content (think high bounce rate and SEO).

Every blog needs the following standard pages:

About: It's important that a first time visitor knows who you are and what kind of content you provide. Creating an about page provides your audience with that information. Your about page really sets the tone for your site, letting your readers get personal with you, and discover what’s in it for them.

Contact: To have a way for people to reach you, be it a reader who has questions or persons who want to collaborate.  

Call to Action: Building an email list has become more and more important over time. You can create an incentive for your audience to offer their email so you can regularly keep in touch with them. That’s one way to create a loyal following.

Resources: Someone may be interested in doing what you do so why not create a resources page that lists all your recommended tools, products and services for them?

Start-a-profitable-blog-SeventhandOak.jpg3.jpg

Protect Yourself Legally

This is one step a number of people often forget. If you plan to monetize your blog, collect personal information from your readers, etc, you need a disclaimer page, as well as a privacy policy page. You have to protect yourself because ANYTHING can happen on the internet.

I suggest creating a disclosure page to promote transparency between you and your audience. It also helps to build trust.

If you’re building an email list and need to collect sensitive information from your readers, it would be advisable to have a privacy policy on your blog. It simply explains how you plan to use the information provided by readers.

It will definitely keep your readers at ease and as a bonus, powerful search engines like google will see your site as one to trust.


Create engaging content

This is the fun part (at least for me). You can begin researching and creating content from the niches you identified earlier.  My basic format is Introduction, Message, Conclusion and a Call to Action.

If you have a call to action, add it at the end of your post to engage your readers. Don’t forget to add quality photos and graphics that are relevant to that topic.

Start-a-profitable-blog-SeventhandOak4.jpg

Launch your blog and Promote! Promote!! Promote!!!

Congratulations! If you made it to the end of this post and went through the steps outlined, you should be ready to launch your new blog and show off everything you’ve worked on.

Announce it on social media (Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook), to your friends, family, coworkers, neighbours and their pets! Always drop a hint for them to share your blog if they found something useful/interesting. If you don’t promote your blog, you may never find your community.

Once you've launched your blog, you need to establish a rhythm. Your audience should know when to expect new content and updates. Consistency breeds loyalty.

★★★★★

I hope this post was helpful in helping you start your blog.  If you did recently launch a blog, leave a link in the comment section below and in a few short sentences, share what your blog is all about. I'd love to check it out.