I started Thrifty Hustler in May 2019 and I’d like to share with you the process of starting a profitable blog including tips on how you could potentially speed up the growth of your blog when it comes to traffic. Here’s an overview of How to Start a Profitable WordPress Blog:
- Identify the Reason/s Why You Want to Start a Blog
- Identify Your Blogging Niche
- Choose the Right Blog Name
- Create Social Media Accounts and Other Important Web Accounts
- Sign up for a Web Host
- Install WordPress Themes and Plugins
- Create Static Pages
- Create Valuable Content
- How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Now, let’s talk about each topic in a bit more detail.
Let’s start, shall we?
Identify the Reason/s Why You Want to Start a Blog
Each of us has our own reasons why we want to start a blog. Personally, I created this blog so I can have a platform to connect with Personal Finance bloggers that I want to learn from. Secondly, I also created this blog so I can have a platform to learn how to make money online.
My ultimate goal is to be able to create sources of passive/residual income through blogging or other online means.
Your reason/s why you want to start a blog will play a huge role in the choices that you’ll be making in the next steps. That’s why you have to be very clear on this one before you proceed to the next step.
Identify Your Blogging Niche
Earning money through blogging is one of the most popular reasons why people create blogs. It is definitely possible to make money from blogs. There are numerous bloggers who have already shared their blogging income over the years and a quick Google search will lead you to those articles.
However, not every blogger is earning enough money to make blogging their full-time career. Making money with a blog is easy, but making a substantial amount of money is a different story.
Your blogging niche is one of the crucial factors that will determine your blog’s profitability.
If you want to make money from your blog, you have to be careful in choosing your blog niche and you should take into consideration these two very important things:
Are there opportunities to earn from your chosen niche? Some other questions that you need to ask yourself before you choose your blog niche are:
- Is there an audience for your chosen niche? How big is that audience?
- Are there potential advertisers or affiliate programs for your chosen niche?
- Is there an opportunity to sell a product in your chose niche (if in case you go this route)?
Most bloggers write the article themselves. Once they grow bigger, they hire/build their team of writers. If you are just starting out, then chances are, you will be writing all the articles by yourself.
Can you sustain writing for your blog for 6 months? How about a year or two?
Choose the niche that you’re passionate about and that you’re knowledgeable about so will have ample materials to start with. Also, choose a niche that’s not too narrow so you will have a variety of topics or sub-topics to talk about in your blog.
I wrote a more in-depth article about How to Choose the Right Blog Niche and you can see it here.
Choose the Right Blog Name
Keep in mind the brand that you want to establish when choosing your blog name. Your blog name should represent what your blog is all about.
In my case, I have chosen Thrifty Hustler because it best represents my way of life. I’m a frugal person and I earn a living by online selling a variety of second-hand goods. It used to be my side-hustle which became my full-time gig after a few years. My blog name also embodies what my content is all about – frugal living and hustling.
Here are some basic tips on how to create your blog name:
- Pick a name that’s short but easy to remember
- Use a thesaurus to look for synonyms in case your target blog name is unavailable
- Choose a name that’s not confusing to say, spell or type
Once you have shortlisted your target blog name, register your blog name via your preferred domain name registrars such as Namecheap or Godaddy or via your web host. If you are going to buy your domain from a domain registrar, you can save some money by using coupons.
You can also save money if you sign up with a web host that offers a free domain name registration.
Create Social Media Accounts and Other Important Web Accounts
Before I signed up with my web host, I created my social media accounts first to make sure that I get my desired account names right away. This is also to ensure that I’m consistent with my branding. The most popular social media websites that you have to have accounts with are:
Once you are done setting up your blog, you will be using these websites to market or promote your blog posts.
Aside from social media website accounts, you also need to create the following Google accounts that can help you gather and analyze your blog’s traffic data:
You just need one Gmail account in order to sign up with the above-mentioned Google services.
Sign up for a Web Host
A web host is a company that stores your blog/website data on its server and makes it available for viewing online. Hostinger is my web host and I signed up with them because of the following reasons:
- It’s fast
- It’s one of the most affordable web hosts
- Customer service support is responsive
If you wish to see my review about Hostinger before you sign-up with them, click here.
Which Web Hosting Plan to Choose?
Personally, I picked Premium Shared Hosting because it’s more suited to my needs. Below is a screenshot of what the available plans are and what the included services are.
During the signup process, a customer service representative may get in touch with you via chat or email to assist you with the onboarding.
If you wish to contact customer service at any time, you need to be logged in to your account. You have to click on the purple button that hovers on the lower right side of your screen.
Once you are done with the signup and registration of the domain with Hostinger, it’s time to install WordPress.
Hostinger created an easy and detailed explanation of how to install WordPress. You can find the instruction here.
Once you have installed WordPress, it’s time to add themes and plugins.
Install WordPress Themes and Plugins
A WordPress Theme is basically the frontend of your blog or what your blog will look like when it appears on your audiences’ mobile phones or laptops. It’s basically the design aesthetic of your blog. Most people go for paid themes due to numerous features that are not often available in free themes such as better customization features and theme support.
However, if you don’t have a budget yet for a paid theme then opt for a free theme in the meantime. There are numerous free themes in WordPress that you can choose from.
To find the free themes, just look at the left side of your WordPress Dashboard and click on ‘Appearance’ and then click on ‘Themes’.
Afterward, click on ‘Add New’ and then search “Free’.
All the available “Free Themes’ will appear on your screen.
Click on the Theme that you want to install to see a Live Demo and also to see the ratings given by other users. This is also the page where you can ‘Activate’ your preferred free theme.
Once you have installed your preferred theme, then it’s time to install your WordPress Plugins.
WordPress plugins are software apps that allow users to add features and functionalities to your WordPress blog. Plugins are very helpful especially for people like us who are not really that ‘tech-savvy’.
To add a plugin, go to your WordPress Dashboard and click on ‘Add New’.
Here are some of the FREE plugins that I use and that I recommend for you to have:
Akismet Anti-Spam: Akismet filters out spam comments.
Broken Link Checker: As the name says, Broken Link Checker, constantly checks if you have broken links on your posts
Contact Form 7: I use Contact Form 7 to create customized contact forms. You can also use WPForms which is another popular WordPress plugin that does the same thing.
Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights: This plugin is the best WordPress plugin for Google Analytics. You can use this plugin to connect your blog with Google Analytics so you can monitor your blog traffic and other important stats within your WordPress dashboard.
MailChimp Forms by MailMunch: I use this plugin to create signup forms/subscription boxes on my blog.
Pretty Links: I use Pretty Links to create better-looking affiliate links. If you’re not going to include any affiliate links on your posts then you don’t have to install this.
Redirection: This is important in managing all your 301 redirects and it also monitors 404 errors on your blogs. It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Be sure to install this.
Revive Old Posts: I use this app to automatically Retweet my Old Posts. I don’t recommend installing this right away if you have just a few articles on your blog. I only installed this once I have written my 100th article.
Shareaholic: This is a plugin that enables your readers to easily share your blog posts on various social media websites. There are actually lots of similar plugins in the markets but I prefer Shareaholic because it gives me tons of customization features. I will probably write a separate post about this and I will link it here.
Smush: I use this plugin to automatically optimize all the images that I upload to my WordPress blog.
UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore: Again, just like Shareaholic, there are numerous Backup/Restore plugin available in WordPress but I prefer this one. This is a plugin that helps you easily backup your WordPress blog so you can restore it if in case something goes wrong.
W3 Total Cache: I used to use Lite Cache Plugin but it seems to be having some conflict with MailMunch App that’s why I changed to W3 Total Cache. There are also numerous options available for the same function.
Wordfence Security: I use this plugin to protect my blog from viruses, malware, and other forms of attacks.
Yoast SEO: This is probably one of the most important plugins that you have to install. Yoast SEO plugin helps you improve the SEO of your blog.
Create Static Pages
Blog pages are different from blog posts. Blog pages are static pages on your blog and are often used to display important information about your blog.
Here are some of the blog pages that you should have:
This page will contain information about the blog and the blogger and it’s usually used to set the right expectations to readers. This is also the page where you can introduce yourself so the readers can get to know you a bit better.
This is basically where your audience, prospective collaborators and advertisers, or basically anyone else that wishes to contact you can send you an email.
If you’re earning from your blog or if you’re planning to earn from your blogs via ads, affiliate marketing, etc, you need to have a Disclaimer page. This is to inform your audience how you make money on your blog. This is required in some countries so be sure to have one.
This is non-negotiable and you need to have this page. This page basically informs users about the data you collect on your website as well as how you and other third parties may use this data. This is important especially if you use Google Adsense and other related ad companies.
Start Here Page
This is not needed when your content is quite thin. However, as your blog grows older, you need to have a page that you can use to help your audience easily navigate your blog. I just created mine today so check it out if you need some inspiration on how to make one.
Create Valuable Content
Now, this is when the real work begins!
Creating valuable content for your target audience is the most important thing if you want to create a profitable blog. I will be dividing this topic into two sections, namely:
- How to Choose the Right Keyword/Topic
- How to Write the Content
How to Choose the Right Keyword/Topic
I mentioned earlier that choosing the right niche will help you sustain and profit from your blog and this is how it basically works.
- Google is used by people around the world to answer whatever questions they type in
- Google provides the answer to the user and chooses the best possible answer to their questions
- The most relevant/best websites or blogs that answer the users’ questions will appear on the first page of Google
- If a person sees the website or blog on the page of Google, they will click on that link and…
- It will lead them to your website… and bam! That’s what you need to happen to generate traffic to your blog and choosing the right topic is the most important thing that you can do in order to be successful in blogging.
What I usually do is I choose topics that are:
- Relevant to my blog theme: Since my niche is Personal Finance, then I write about how to make and save money and everything in between.
- Topics With a Sizeable Audience: I also choose topics that I know have an existing audience. Such topics include (but not limited to): products and services, How to’s, etc.
- Have existing competition that I know I can compete with: What I usually do is I use Google search and I type in my target keywords and then look at the existing blogs or websites on the first page.
I recently wrote an article about one of the most widely used mobile wallet/ digital savings accounts in the Philippines called GSave and I want to rank on the first page of Google for this keyword. The first thing I did was to search Google for existing articles about ‘What is GSave‘.
Please bear with me for the multiple screenshots here, my laptop screen is small and I have to do multiple screenshots to capture the first page of Google.
However, there are also two other blogs (ToughNickel and TheLearningDadBlog) and Reddit. The one highlighted in red is my article. Prior to writing this, there’re only two blogs on the first page – ToughNickel and TheLearningDadBlog.
When I saw this, I thought that I might have a chance to join them on the first page, so I went ahead and created an article last month.
Luckily, it did land on the first page just in a few weeks.
However, it’s important to remember that although it’s great to be on the first page of Google, the goal of all content creators is to be on the #1 spot of Google search.
Why is that? Is being on the first page, not enough?
Unfortunately, in order to generate substantial traffic that you can monetize, it’s best to be on the #1 spot.
The traffic that the number 1 article on Google search is way above what the rest of the websites that appear on the first page gets.
- Have Less Competition: Another deciding factor for me in choosing the topic is when there’s not much competition. I also use Google Search to gauge this data. However, there are other tools that you can use to see the number of competitions.
Aside from Google Search, I also use the following free tools to gauge the competition of the topic/keyword that I’d like to write about:
I hope that by this time, you have an idea of how to choose the right topic/keyword for your blog post. Let’s move on to how to write the content.
How to Write the Content
Once you have identified your target keyword, then start writing the article. My guiding principles in writing an article is simple:
- Did I answer what the user is asking about?
- Can I answer what the user potentially wants to know more about (related to his first question)?
- Is the article worth reading?
I start with creating an outline and I organize sub-categories in anticipation of what the reader wants to know more about the topic that led him to my blog.
And then, I start writing the content. My writing style is somewhat conversational and informal. I usually imagine talking to the reader of my blog.
Once I have finished the article, I will read it over and over again and correct errors such as typos, spelling, sentence constructions, the flow of thought, etc.
Sometimes, even after reading it multiple times, I still see some errors after the post has been published.
To help me minimize my errors, I installed a free online writing assistant software called Grammarly. It highlights in red the words and phrases that need to be corrected.
After I’m done with writing the content, I will spend some time creating the best possible title containing my target keyword/s.
And then, I will add images that I have created using Canva and add accompanying free images from Unsplash. I also add screenshots if needed such as the ones I have added above.
Once everything has been added to the post, I will then review the post again and break large blocks of texts. By adding more images or by breaking up the paragraphs. This will make it easier to the eyes of the reader.
And then, I will hit ‘Publish”.
How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Congratulations! If you are still with me, then you just read 3035 words at this point. 🙂
Once you have finished your first article, then I suggest that you create more content before you start promoting your blog.
If you promote your first article right away, then the readers will end up seeing a blog with only one article, right?
What I did was, I only started promoting my blog post when I finished posting my 10th article. When a reader finds my blog (back then), they’ll see at least ten published articles.
There’s no magic number to consider here. It’s just my personal preference not to promote a blog with very few contents.
Anyway, back to driving traffic to your blog, there are multiple ways to drive traffic to your blog. And in order to get an idea of how to drive traffic, you must first understand the sources of blog traffic. The most common/popular sources of blog traffic are:
- Direct Traffic
- Search Traffic
Let’s discuss the sources of traffic briefly one by one to give you an idea of how to drive traffic to your blog.
Most Common Sources of Traffic
Direct traffic means users of your websites are typing in your URL on the search bar of their browsers. When you are just starting out, you might see some direct traffic right away and if you have not excluded your IP in Google Analytics, then it’s just probably counting your own visits to your blog. I included the instruction on how to exclude your own IP in this post. just scroll all the way down to see it.
To generate Direct Traffic, you could either inform your friends, colleagues, and family about your URL so they can visit your blog. Over time, once you generate your own followers, then they might also appear as Direct Traffic if they go directly to your blog.
This is what almost everyone is aiming to achieve, specifically on Google Search. Google is the most widely used search engine in the world. Google gets BILLIONS of search requests on a yearly basis and of course, all businesses including blogs and websites want to benefit from this.
Optimizing your blog and blog posts is the best way to rank in Google search. This is a very broad topic to discuss but, what I have shared with you on ‘Create Valuable Content’, will give you a good idea regarding driving search traffic.
The traffic from referrals means, traffic coming from websites that linked your blog. Some of the ways to drive Referral traffic include (but not limited to):
- Blog commenting
- Guest posting
- Forum commenting (as long as your blog link is included in your profile/comment)
- Creating content (with a link back to your website) in other blogging/micro-blogging platforms
- Creating content in any other websites that will produce a link back to your blog
Getting email traffic is highly dependent of course on your number of email subscribers. This is a crucial list to have because there are also tons of ways to monetize this valuable list.
Social traffic is basically traffic coming from social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. The more followers you have on social media websites, the higher the chances of converting them into blog traffic.
Basic Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
The most basic ways of driving traffic to a blog are:
- Creating valuable and helpful contents that are worth sharing
- Engaging your readers by responding to their comments
- Engaging with your fellow bloggers and other web content creators
Driving traffic to a blog takes a lot of time and effort but it’s not impossible to achieve.
If you have very limited time like me (I consider myself a part-time blogger as of the moment), stay focus on three things in the meantime:
- Content Creation
- Relationship Building with Your Audience and Blog Community
- Continuous Learning
These are the things that I stay focus on, especially the first one – content creation.
If you consistently create SEO-optimized helpful content that answers your target audiences’ questions, then you will surely generate traffic to your blog.
Take this blog as a mini case study. I haven’t made any backlinking effort yet and in the 21 months of its existence (as of the time of writing), it was totally inactive for 11 months and there were a lot of months when I barely had any new content.
However, when I started writing SEO-optimized content (in the latter part of 2020) that answers readers’ questions, then my traffic started climbing up.
As I have said earlier, blogging is not easy but, to be honest, it’s also not that difficult, especially if you stay focused on creating SEO-optimized and helpful content. I will be writing in the future different monetization strategies that I’m going to personally try for myself. I will link them here as soon as they become available.
Thanks for reading! I hope that this post helped you create your first blog.