One thing that I think may happen to newcomers is to not get overwhelmed by the WordPress dashboard. Being told about plugins and themes can be quite scary, but I found it all quite easy. Play around and watch some YouTube videos because it really is user-friendly when you use it a bit more.
But there was something I learned recently called the brand of you, which is the concept of building a personal brand and leveraging your unique identity to establish yourself as an influential figure online. It teaches that people should view themselves as their own niche.
“For myself and other business owners who set up their own blogs, I sort of break it down into three steps when I’m explaining it to people.
“When you first think of blogging, especially when you think about it decades ago, it was just writing content. It was about your hobbies, or your interests, or what you saw on TV. But now, we have social media and you’re able to now express your opinions on a new film that’s come out on Facebook or Twitter. Or for business-related ones, on LinkedIn.
From there, the biggest monetization strategies are paid ads. So that’s Google AdSense and the like, who basically pay you to put little banners on your website. [There’s also] affiliate links which is where somebody can provide a link to a product and then if someone else goes on that clicks, the link and purchases something the other person who posted the link gets a commission.”
“Blogging has now kind of moved from being a hobby to being a business, which I think is really great because it’s getting more people an opportunity to make more money”
There’s Adam Enfroy, who runs a blog focused on blogging and personal finance, but also software reviews. He’s a great inspiration. I think last year alone, he made just over 4.5 million dollars, which is just insane. And I think numbers like that are either gonna put you off and say, ‘There’s no way I can do that.’ Or it’ll make you realize ‘Wow, he was just a normal guy – he wasn’t an expert in blogging and he’s got this far and I can too.’
There are skills that you need but also skills that you sort of develop as you’re teaching yourself. There were things I didn’t know much about even though I’ve been a marketer. I didn’t do much content marketing and writing. And I definitely didn’t do any website design. All of these things were self-taught.
What elevates WordPress from other platforms like Shopify or Wix is the customization options you need when running a blog as a business with WordPress. I’d always recommend it to people. I think it’s the most popular content management system in the world so when it comes to blogging, it’s just really good at bringing your vision to life.
And then, once you’ve created your blog, you want to optimize it. So this is mainly to do with search engine optimization SEO, which means actually getting traffic to your blog, and then thirdly is monetizing your blog. Because once you’re getting a constant stream of traffic to your blog, you can then make a lot of money from it.
So the first step is to create a blog. The second step is to optimize your blog and then third, monetize your blog. Starting a blog is basically creating your own website, which will depend on the budget that you have. You can always hire somebody to do that, but I don’t normally recommend this if I’m speaking to friends just because it is so easy these days to create your own website from scratch. You don’t need an expert to do it.
I’m the sort of person who’s really into branding and design, having been in marketing. I can’t tell you how many times have changed my website’s design! It doesn’t actually matter as long as you have a website with the basic pages that you need and the formatting is readable and user-friendly. I spent ages playing around with colors and logos and wasting so much time. Because the most important thing is the content.
If I had a generic blog name I could sort of hide behind it. But there are a lot of things I learned from that. Firstly, my blog name was focused on blogging itself, which meant limiting myself to topics centered around blogging and hurting my growth. If I wanted to expand into topics like YouTube, podcasting, or software reviews, it’d have been awkward.
If you want to do something else, there’s probably a plugin that can help you do it. I have all the essential ones. RankMath keeps a checklist of all my keywords when I’m writing a post and I use UpDraft Plus so I can sleep at night and not worry about things going wrong and losing all my data.
“It’s really easy to monetize a blog and set it up but you need traffic to your blog to actually make the income. So you can put affiliate links, you can put display ads, you can launch an online course but you’re not actually gonna make money from it because nobody’s there. You haven’t built trust and loyalty with an audience. You haven’t got the authority that you need in the blogging space. So you won’t be actually making any income from those yet.
“It can be a bit overwhelming to somebody who’s completely new to this and has no idea where to start. My best advice is to have a plan and stick to it.
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“I’ve been in business-to-business tech marketing for about eight years. I’ve worked for some of the world’s biggest tech companies like Hewlett Packard, DXC Technologies, and AVID. I’ve also worked as a contractor for Facebook.
You need to post consistently, and you need to post things that are relevant. The best thing to do is your keyword research so you can identify their search intents, which is the motivation behind users’ online search queries. That will ensure a really good starting point and make sure your content is ranked.
Keep on ignoring SEO if you’re just writing something for your friends and family to see. But if you’re writing it for millions of people to see and [want] to monetize from it? SEO plays a crucial role in attracting organic traffic to your blog. So you need to do your keyword research and make sure you’re writing your meta tags and backlinks. It’s the second most important thing.
“So originally, I didn’t have my blog under my own name. I didn’t want to use my own name. I didn’t want my name out there, I was sort of worrying that I’d fail. And It’d be more embarrassing if that was under my name.
I think being in tech and marketing helped me learn that because I do think in the future, there’ll be more and more people doing this.”
Next, you need to work out your content strategy. Look at what the latest trends are, the news, and developments in your niche. Follow influential people as I mentioned and see what they’re talking about. And look at news sites, social media channels, and industry forums just to make sure you’re staying current and on top of things. Stick to small, realistic goals and you’ll find you won’t be overwhelmed.
I was initially worried about using my own name because it’s Welsh and hard to pronounce. With the two f’s, people might think it’s a typo but I spoke to members of the blogging community and they were like ‘Don’t!’ They knew tons of blogs with really complicated names or foreign names and Google doesn’t actually care. If you still write really good content Google is going to put you as that number one result.”
“They knew tons of blogs with really complicated names or foreign names and Google doesn’t actually care. If you still write really good content Google is going to put you as that number one result.”
My role has always been in various marketing roles, [but] it never really covered blogging or anything like that. So when it does come to blogging, I was completely new to it and SEO and all the other things. I was just learning from scratch.
But I feel my background in marketing was also kind of what pushed me to do it because I understood the tech world and understood that these things are possible. If you say to your parents, ‘I’m starting a blog and it could make a lot of money.’ They’d be like, ‘No way. You’re falling for a scam. These things don’t happen.’ But they do.
A bad blog does not contain any value, or anything new to the reader, and will also be not user-friendly. You could have great content, but if your text is really small and the font is too wacky or the colors are off – that’s just gonna make somebody automatically click off of it.
I’m a very, very, impatient person. So I feel like if I can do it, a lot of people can do it. You need to be somebody who likes to learn and it’s probably not for you if you’re not willing to try out new things and learn new things and create these things from scratch. Because it does take a lot of learning.”
“It is so easy these days to create your own website from scratch”
“I have been using WordPress on and off for about five years. It’s great for blogging because you’ve got complete customization over it. You can have different themes and plugins that will help you create your vision. And you don’t actually need anything super fancy. You just need the basics for collecting email subscribers and doing maybe landing pages and pop-ups to get more engagement and being able to sell courses or eBooks, and you’re able to do all these things with WordPress.
So I would say, make a plan, stick to it, and don’t go back and change things just because you want to. What’s that saying? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
“Stick to small, realistic goals and you’ll find you won’t be overwhelmed.”
The issue is you’re gonna have a million things to do [setting up a blog]. From designing the website to branding, content strategy, writing the content, keyword research, SEO, getting backlinks, and reaching out for guest posts. Just so many things to do that, sometimes, it can cause burnout.
Even though I’m not in the food blogging industry, there’s Casey from Get On My Plate, who runs a really cool food blog and she realized pretty soon that she was able to make a lot of money from her blog as she was able to quit her full-time job. And now she offers coaching sessions on blogging and there’s Leah, from By Leah Claire who runs a lifestyle travel blog. I love to look at travel blogs and kind of wish I was there but she also does something quite interesting, which is she’s working on blogs for the idea of flipping them. Sort of like flipping houses, she’s gonna flip blogs for profit, so that’s really cool. So I’m following her as well.”
“I spent ages playing around with colors and logos and wasting so much time. Because the most important thing is the content.”
Things can go wrong – I’ve received error messages late at night but with the WordPress community, everything was solved in seconds. But just keep in mind that things can go wrong, like with everything.”
“You just need the basics for collecting email subscribers and doing maybe landing pages and pop-ups to get more engagement and being able to sell courses or eBooks, and you’re able to do all these things with WordPress.”
If you need help with coming up with content ideas, like if one day you’ve just got brain fog, you can always ask ChatGPT to help you with starting something off and giving you a framework. For instance, if you’re giving it prompts such as ‘help me write an email template’ and then working from that, it can be really good. But if you also ask it to write the blog post, you’re just gonna get really generic, sometimes plagiarized content and Google can tell and Google will penalize you for that. So there’s no point really. Plus, you can always tell now what content has been written by ChatGPT because it’s quite obvious. That’s gonna make you lose readers. I think it’s great, but it shouldn’t be abused.”
“I think [ChatGPT] is great, but it shouldn’t be abused.”
People often wonder what niche they should do when starting out. Well, you are your own niche! You’re developing a strong personal brand so you can differentiate yourself from others and therefore craft a sustainable business from his ‘brand of you’.
“High-quality, interesting content is what makes a good blog. People will go on your blog because they’re searching for something and they’re clicking on a link. They think [your blog] is going to answer their question and that’s what a good blog will provide.
Blogging has now kind of moved from being a hobby to being a business, which I think is really great because it’s getting more people an opportunity to make more money. And there are certain bloggers who started out just having a hobby, but they now have employees and they run massive businesses.