This action plan is intended to lay out the steps that you need to take in order to go from novice to profitable blogger. It is intended to be a complementary resource to the The Guide to Profitable Blogging. If you haven’t already read the e-book I highly recommend starting there as it goes into more detail on most of the topics covered here.
You can follow this guide step-by-step, or you can chose to deviate a little bit where you see fit. It is intended as a suggested course for those who are looking for more actionable steps to making money with a blog.
The steps covered in this blog cannot be completed in their entirety in a very short period of time. The amount of time that it takes to go through the steps will vary from one person to the next and will depend on how much time you are able to put in on a consistent basis. In general, if you are able to dedicate 10 – 15 hours per week towards building your blog it will probably take somewhere around 6 months of consistent effort to reach the point where you have completed the steps and are making a nice little profit with your blog.
For many people the thought of dedicating that much time without seeing an immediate reward is not something that they are willing to do. While it certainly does require a fair amount of work before the payoff, the good news is that it gets easier as you go and once you have an established blog there are plenty of opportunities to make money from it. Should you decide that building an authority blog is worth the effort (which I certainly think it is), this action plan can help.
Step 1: Decide on a Topic for Your Blog
The first thing you need to do is decide what your blog will be about. Most people select a topic that matches up with their hobbies or interests. Some people say you need to choose a topic that you’re passionate about and others say that passion doesn’t matter. My opinion is that you need to choose a topic that at least interests you, otherwise you’re much more likely to give up on the blog before it becomes profitable.
In an ideal situation you will already be an expert on your topic of choice, but this is not always necessary. With many topics you can learn as you go, although it will require more work and more time.
When selecting a topic for an authority blog I personally don’t do any keyword research. I don’t base the decision of a topic on the number of searches people are doing for a particular keyword because you can target a different keyword or phrase with each blog post.
Instead, my goal in researching a topic is to find other blogs that cover the topic, and research them. Are you finding a lot of blogs on this particular topic? Are they up-to-date with new posts being published at least weekly? How long have they been around? Do they seem to be monetizing the blog through ads, product sales, affiliate products, services, or any other methods? If you’re seeing other active blogs covering the topic and they seem to be making some money through these methods you will know that it is possible to make money with this topic. The more blogs you see the more competition you will face for the attention of readers, but personally I would rather be in a crowded niche than in a very small niche that only has a few readers. If you’ve selected a popular niche that is crowded with a lot of blogs, you’ll need to be able to make yours stand out somehow.
Another thing to look for is products for sale that are aimed at your target audience. If there are existing products out there it is a good sign that there is some money to be made in this niche. As a blogger you could make money by selling ad space to companies who are selling these products, you could join affiliate programs of these products, or you could create products of your own to sell.
Step 2: Buy a Domain Name and Web Hosting
Once you have chosen a topic, you will need to find a domain name for your blog. This may sound simple, but it can be quite challenging because most of the domain names that will come to mind are already registered by someone else. Finding a good .com is no easy task. You’ll always have the option of going with a .net or some other extension, but .com’s are typically the best because they are easier for most people to remember.
Choosing a domain is one of the things that I struggle with the most. Fortunately, there are some tools and resources available that can help. The first thing I do is write down a few ideas for main keywords that would be relevant to the site. So when I was trying to decide on a domain name for the site that would become ProfitBlitz I wrote down some keywords like profit, marketing, blogging, money, etc. Then, I turned to one of my favorite free resources. It is a list of 200 Prefixes and Suffixes for Domain Names, from Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips. I go through the list and look for words that would be good as a prefix or suffix for any of my keywords. Daniel also expanded the concept with Free Domain Generator, which can speed up the process.
Some other useful tools that are worth checking out are NameBoy, Bust A Name, and Domainr. For registering domain names I use GoDaddy, but there are any number of other domain registrars and most web hosts will also allow you to register domains with them. I don’t recommend hosting your site with GoDaddy, but I prefer to keep all of my domain names in one place, and GoDaddy has always worked well for me. However, it can be a bit simpler if you register your domain name through your web hosting company (I’ll make some recommendations in a moment).
In order to get your site online you will need a web hosting account. Yes, it is possible to get free blog hosting from sites like WordPress.com and Blogger, but if you are serious about making money from your blog you will need your own hosting account and your own domain. The good news is that hosting can be quite inexpensive.
For a good low-cost host I recommend SiteGround. I host most of my sites, including ProfitBlitz, with SiteGround and I’ve been very happy with their services. Their servers are optimized for WordPress-powered websites and blogs, so pages tend to load quickly on SiteGround’s servers. They also make it super easy to install WordPress, and they offer 24/7 support by telephone, email, and online chat. You can read my more detailed review of SiteGround here, and be sure to see this guide on How to Install WordPress with SiteGround’s Web Hosting.
SiteGround has been a great host for me, but in the spirit of options I’d also recommend Bluehost and HostGator as being good choices for low-cost hosting. I used both of these companies in the past and was happy with them, but opted to move my sites to SiteGround once I saw the improved page load speeds that I was getting on their servers. Both Bluehost and HostGator are large, reputable hosts that offer good pricing and support.
Step 3: Install WordPress and Find a Theme
There are a lot of different blogging platforms that you can use, but I highly recommend WordPress. It’s free and most web hosts make it easy to set up. I’ve been using WordPress since 2007 and I use it for all of my sites.
If you’ve chosen SiteGround to host your site it will be very easy to install WordPress for your blog. After you create your hosting account SiteGround will lead you through the very simple process of installing WordPress. You can see the steps here, and if you need help SiteGround will even install it for you.
New WordPress installations use a default theme (template), which you will want to change. There are a lot of free themes available, but I recommend that you buy a premium theme if you can spare about $50. Free themes may not cost you any money, but in most cases they won’t give your blog a very professional or attractive appearance. Even worse, you won’t be able to get any customer service.
For less than $100, and in many cases less than $50, you can buy a premium theme that will look great, giving your new blog an easy way to make a positive first impression with visitors. Also, almost all premium theme sellers will offer support if you need help. Since the price is so low it just makes sense to start with a premium theme, if possible. Some bloggers want to start with a full custom design, but the cost is often over $1,000 and the quality may or may not be any better than you could get with a $50 premium theme. I recommend starting with a premium theme and if you want to upgrade to a full custom design later you will always have that option.
If you don’t have the money to buy a premium theme at this point, the best place to browse free themes is the official WordPress theme directory. As far as premium themes go, one of my favorite places to find high-quality WordPress themes is Elegant Themes. They offer their themes via membership, and for only $69 per year (can be canceled any time), you can get access to more than 80 different themes. Other places to find WordPress themes include StudioPress and DIY Themes. There are many others as well, but that is a good start.
Step 4: Prepare Your Blog’s Initial Content
The first few posts to be published on your blog are important for making a positive impression on those visitors who arrive at the site. You’ll want to make sure that your posts represent the high level of quality that you will be publishing on the blog in the future, and hopefully many of those initial visitors will subscribe to your newsletter or RSS feed.
When you launch your new blog there are going to be a number of different things that you’ll want to be doing to gain some exposure, such as contacting other bloggers about guest posting and participating in the comments section at other blogs. For this reason I recommend that you complete 5 – 10 posts before you launch the blog. You can publish these posts over the next few weeks (I recommend publishing 1-2 really good posts per week to start), and that way you won’t have as much pressure to produce that content right after your launch.
Step 5: Work on a Freebie for Growing Your Newsletter or Mailing List
Another big part of your blog launch will be getting your newsletter or email list off the ground. Since you won’t be getting tons of visitors at first, it is import to get as many opti-ins as possible and building your list will be a critical part of your blogging efforts. Later on when your list is established it can be a great asset for promoting your own products or affiliate products.
One of the best ways to quickly grow a newsletter list is to offer some sort of valuable free download as a bonus to reward your subscribers. In the case of ProfitBlitz, you may have signed up for the mailing list to get the Guide to Profitable Blogging e-book or to get this free action plan. Your freebie doesn’t have to be a long, detailed e-book that will take a long time to write. In most cases I recommend using a freebie like a special report or a brief e-book that you can probably write in a matter of a few hours. You’ll want this information to be something valuable for your readers, but it doesn’t need to be lengthy. Basically, you want to offer a solution to a problem that many of your visitors are facing, and if you can do that you will get many of those visitors to subscribe.
Step 6: Start Your Newsletter
Before launching your blog you’ll want to sign up for a newsletter service. I recommend GetResponse or AWeber, which I use for my own newsletters and mailing lists (you can read my full review of AWeber here and GetResponse here). GetResponse offers a 30-day free trial with no credit card info required. You can get the first month for $1 with AWeber. After the first month, GetResponse’s prices are slightly lower, but AWeber’s prices are competitive. When you sign up for GetResponse, AWeber, or another mailing list manager, they will provide you with the code for an opt-in form that you can paste into a page or the sidebar of your blog. You can also set it up so that the download link for your free bonus is automatically provided to subscribers (AWeber users. see this tutorial).
Aweber, GetResponse, and some other mailing list managers as well, will allow you to set up an autoresponder sequence that subscribers will receive after they confirm their subscription. You can set up the autoresponder to send certain emails to subscribers at specific intervals after the subscribe, which is a great way to build some rapport with those subscribers.
Your newsletter will be very important to your success as a blogger, so increasing the percentage of your blog visitors that subscribe will be a huge boost. If you have some money in the budget you may want to invest in a plugin like OptinMonster or Popup Domination that can help you to significantly increase the percentage of opt-ins.
Step 7: Create Social Media Profiles
Social media and blogging go hand-in-hand. It’s difficult to build a popular and successful authority blog without at least being active at a few major social media sites. I recommend setting up a Twitter profile, a Google+ profile, and a Facebook page for your blog, but there may be other social media sites that you want to use as well. Pinterest is extremely popular right now, and there may be some niche-specific social media sites that would allow you to connect with people in your target audience.
I recommend including links to your social media profiles somewhere on your blog, and many premium WordPress themes will include some type of social media integration. There are also a number of free WordPress plugins for promoting your social profiles on your site. And of course, make sure that your social profiles link back to your blog as well.
While you’re setting up your social profiles you should also set up Google Authorship so that your Google+ profile and your blog are integrated. You can see more about that here.
Step 8: Identify Blogs in Your Niche for Guest Posting
One of the best ways to get a new blog off the ground is to write a number of guest posts to be published at various blogs in your chosen niche or industry. Of course, having your posts published at popular blogs with large audiences will generally be the most effective, but you don’t need to ignore smaller blogs.
Take some time to research other blogs in your niche and see if they accept guest posts submissions. Many blogs will have a “write for us” or “contribute” page if they accept guest posts, so this is the first thing to look for. Also, check the posts that have been published recently to see if they list an author, and if so, see if they are publishing the work of a lot of different writers. If they are already publishing posts from several different writers chances are they are open to guest posts. Make a list of the blogs that you would like to target as locations to publish your guest posts.
Google is trying to crack down on excessive link building through low-quality guest posts. I recommend that you only publish your guest posts on blogs that consistently publish high-quality content. Even if your article is of a good quality it could still hurt your search engine optimization if you’re publishing guest posts on sites/blogs that are known to publish low-quality content from SEO spammers.
Step 9: Go Live with Your Blog and First Posts
At this point you’ve done all of the legwork and you can now go live with your blog and publish your first posts. You could launch with just one post, or you could publish a few posts immediately so visitors will have a little bit more to browse on the site. I would recommend launching with 1 – 3 posts and then publishing 1 – 2 posts per week at first.
Step 10: Submit Guest Posts to Other Blogs
Now that your own blog is live you can start to reach out to the other blogs that you have targeted for your guest posts. If the blog has a “write for us” page or if they provide any instructions for submitting guest posts be sure to follow those instructions exactly. If they don’t include any instructions but you know that they publish guest posts I recommend sending a brief message to introduce yourself and send a completed post for them to review. If you’re not sure if the blog accepts guest posts, contact them to introduce yourself and ask if you can submit a guest post for review. I also recommend that you list a few article ideas so they can tell you if any of your guest post ideas would be of interest to them and their readers.
Your guest post will most likely include a brief author bio at the end of the post, and this is an important opportunity for you. Give some mention of the free resource that people can get if they subscribe to your newsletter, and include a link to a page where they can sign up.
Step 11: Interact with Others via Blog Comments and Social Media
Whenever you have a guest post published on another blog you should keep an eye on the comments for that post. If people are asking questions or just leaving general feedback it is a good practice to respond to those comments even though it is not your own blog. This is a good opportunity to network with other bloggers and blog readers.
Also, you should be active by commenting on other blogs in the niche on posts written by other bloggers. You should leave valuable comments that contribute to the conversation, not worthless comments like “great post”.
Whenever someone leaves a comment on your own blog you should be responding. Getting people to start commenting is a major challenge for most new blogs and you can show visitors that you appreciate and value comments by responding to the ones you get.
You should also be spending about 15 – 30 minutes per day on your chosen social media sites. Follow bloggers and other influential people in your niche, post links to helpful articles (including your own), and get involved with the user community.
Step 12: Continue to Publish Quality Content on Your Blog and Other Blogs
The process of building your blog is just getting started. You’ll need to continue to work at building your blog by publishing quality content at your own blog and guest posts at other blogs. As your blog’s audience grows you can scale back on the guest posts and focus more of your efforts on your own blog.
One technique that I have found to be extremely helpful for new blogs is the use of what I refer to as “epic content”. The idea behind epic content is to publish extremely high-quality content that will get the attention of other bloggers in your niche, as well as the attention of your target audience.
For new blogs, two of the main challenges are to get people to care about your blog and to build links to your blog. If there are other blogs that cover similar topics as yours, and almost certainly there will be, you’ll need to do something to stand out so that readers will feel like they need to pay attention to your blog. If you can wow them with a really helpful, informative, or interesting blog post they will be much more likely to subscribe to your newsletter or to come back to your blog in the future. And epic content makes it much easier for you to start to get some links to your blog because other bloggers and website owners may want to refer their readers to your epic content.
With the launch of ProfitBlitz I published a post about how to choose a monetization strategy for your blog, which can serve as an example of epic content. The article provides in-depth information that can be really helpful to anyone looking to make money from a blog.
I highly recommend that you make an effort to publish an epic blog post within the first month of your blog, as it can be very effective for getting links to your site, attracting new visitors, encouraging repeat visits, and increasing opt-ins for your newsletter.
Step 13: Blogger Outreach
Every successful blogger is well connected, so it’s important that you get to know other bloggers and people working in your niche. Take a few minutes each day, or a couple of days per week, to reach out to others through your social media profiles or by filling out contact forms to introduce yourself.
Blogger outreach works very well in connection with your epic content. If you have a blog post that is extremely valuable to readers, don’t be afraid to contact other bloggers in your niche to let them know about your post. You can visit the “contact” page of other blogs and send the blogger a brief message with a link to your epic content and a short description of what is included. If the content truly is very high quality some of those bloggers will share a link to your post with their readers. The may share it on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, or they may link to it in an upcoming post. Of course, some bloggers will ignore your email and not share it, so you’ll need to branch out and contact a lot of people. I only recommend doing this with your absolute best content, as you will get the most impact this way.
Step 14: Identify Some Affiliate Products to Promote to Your List and Possibly on Your Blog
This step is optional, but many bloggers like to try to start making some money before they have their own products developed and ready to sell. You can find good affiliate opportunities in almost any niche, so this represents a great opportunity.
Be sure that you only promote products that you have used, or at least tried, yourself. Your reputation will be at stake when you are promoting a product as an affiliate, so be sure that the product is worthy of your recommendation.
If you have built a responsive list you can start to make some money by promoting affiliate products to list subscribers. Recommendations where you share your personal stories from using the product yourself will be the most effective way to generate those affiliate sales.
You may also want to promote some affiliate products directly on your blog. This could involve banner ads, links within your post content, or posts published specifically for the purpose of promoting the affiliate product (such as a review or a tutorial for using the product).
Step 15: Use Your Knowledge of Your Audience to Identify a Product to Create
Once you have gained some familiarity with your blog audience and your newsletter list, use that knowledge to decide on a digital product that you can create and sell. You may want to survey your readers/subscribers to find out what types of products may interest them. You can also pay attention to the types of topics that you cover at your blog and see what generates that most comments and traffic. If readers seem to be far more interested in a particular topic than any others, try to think of a product that you could create that would be relevant to this topic. I highly recommend digital products like e-books, online courses, premium content, a membership area to your blog, videos, or webinars.
Step 16: Create the Product and Set up a Simple E-commerce Solution
Now that you have decided on a product, the hard work of creating the product will begin. Once your product is created you will need to be able to sell it on your blog. There are plenty of different e-commerce options available, but I recommend going with something that will offer simplicity. A great option is the free WordPress plugin Easy Digital Downloads, which integrates with PayPal and handles the delivery of your digital product. If you’re willing and able to pay a small amount each month I recommend SendOwl or DPD. These two options are pretty similar, and they both include some great features, like an affiliate program that will allow you pay a commission to other bloggers who want to promote your product. You can find instructions here: Get Started with SendOwl for E-Commerce and Get Started with DPD for E-Commerce.
If your product will involve a members-only area at your blog you will need a plugin to manage the memberships. You can see details about several membership plugins here: WordPress Membership Plugins.
Step 17: Use Your Connections to Get Affiliates to Promote Your Product Launch
By this time you should have developed a number of connections to other bloggers through your guest blogging efforts, social media activities, blog comments, and blogger outreach. You can drastically increase the sales of your product if you can get some of those other bloggers on board to promote your new product when it launches. If you offer an attractive affiliate commission (often somewhere around 50% for digital products) and if you have a high-quality product you should be able to recruit some affiliates. Systems like SendOwl and DPD have an affiliate program already built in, but with some other e-commerce platforms you may need dedicated affiliate software like iDevAffiliate.
Step 18: Promote Your New Product to Your List and On Your Blog
When you are ready to launch your new product you should send an email to your list to announce the product, and also publish a post about it on your blog. Remember that you will need to sell the product, so don’t just simply say that it is available. Provide details, list features and benefits, and if possible list some testimonials from your contacts in the niche.
By this point you now have a blog that is making some money! Of course, this isn’t the end, you’ll need to keep going. Good luck!
I’ve made every effort to ensure that the information provided in this action plan is accurate (at the time of publishing), clear, and not misleading. However, I cannot guarantee that all of the information is correct and up-to-date at all times. I can also make no guarantees that you will make money if you follow the information found in this action plan. By reading and using the information provided by ProfitBlitz you agree that ProfitBlitz and its parent company MNCS LLC are not liable for any loss resulting from the information provided here or the actions that you take in response to the information provided here.
While every attempt is made to only provide accurate information, I cannot guarantee future results or that you will make money. Online business, like any other type of business, presents some risk of loss of investment.
Some of the links in this action plan are affiliate links. If you click on a link I may receive a commission as an affiliate if you make a purchase. Any product or service recommendations that I make are based on my own use of, experience with, or inspection of the product or service. The affiliate relationship does not influence what products and services I recommend. If you wish to see a list of products and services that I use or have used in the past, please see the recommended resources page. If you choose to purchase a product or service through one of my affiliate links, thank you!
Marc is the founder of ProfitBlitz. He has been working online for more than a decade and loves to write about topics like internet marketing and SEO. When he’s not working he enjoys travel and photography.