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What if I told you there’s a new way to start a blog that’s 20X faster, requires no software or technical expertise, and costs absolutely nothing up front?
You’d think there must be some hidden catch, right?
But there’s not. It’s totally real.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through the newest method for how to start a blog, step-by-step, with screenshots and links to all the resources you need. Let’s jump in…
Table of Contents
Should You Even Start a Blog in 2018?
With the dominance of video content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, you might think the whole idea of blogging is a little… out of date. Research tells a different story, though:
And it’s not just companies who are getting great results from blogging. It also works well for…
So, let’s say you fall into one of these categories. Should you just install WordPress and get cracking?
The Old Way to Create a Blog (And Why It Doesn’t Work)
A few years ago, I would’ve said WordPress was the only game in town. It’s faster, more powerful, and more customizable than anything out there. That’s why they power 27% of the sites in the world.
WordPress is also extremely complicated. Here’s a typical list of tasks for setting up a new site:
If you’re a techie, and you’ve done it all before, it’s not a big deal. You can do it all in a few hours.
But if you’re a beginner using WordPress for the first time?
It’s overwhelming, and once you see how much there is to learn, you’ll probably feel like quitting. If you do push forward, you can spend months or even years stuck in a technical quagmire, just learning how to do everything the right way.
Of course, you can always outsource it, but you don’t really know what you are doing, your chances of picking the wrong service provider is pretty high. You might get scammed, hacked, or overcharged.
And here’s the really disturbing question:
Even if you get your WordPress site set up the right way, what if you discover you chose the wrong market or nobody likes the content you are publishing?
It happens all the time. When I was a beginner, I went through three failed blogs before I created one that succeeded. Each time, I spent dozens of hours setting up WordPress, only to discover the blog was never going to work, and I had to start over. If you push forward and set up WordPress without testing your idea first, I pretty much guarantee the same thing will happen to you too.
The bottom line:
Putting it all together, I think setting up a WordPress site is the worst possible approach for a beginner. You’re just setting yourself up for failure.
Fortunately, after working with thousands of students, I’ve discovered a new method that is much, much easier, not to mention faster, and I’m going to outline the entire process for you here.
How to Start a Blog the Right Way (the New Method)
The driving principle behind this new method is simple:
Waste as little effort as possible.
If you’re familiar with the thinking behind The Lean Startup by Eric Reis, everything outlined here will intuitively make sense to you. If not, here’s the idea:
Innovation is messy. Anytime you create something new — regardless of whether it’s an app or book or blog — there’s a huge chance of getting it wrong and having to start over.
The problem with blogging?
Most people don’t know there’s a huge chance of failure, so they spend months or even years creating a blog that has zero chance of succeeding. Eventually, they realize where they went wrong, and they start over, but again, they invest months or even years into creating a second (or third or fourth) blog that doesn’t work.
And here’s the part that’s tough to swallow:
This kind of failure is inevitable. Whenever you’re doing anything new, you will make mistakes and have to start over. It doesn’t matter if you are smart, rich, or successful at many other things. The first time you launch a blog, you will fail. It’s pretty much guaranteed to happen.
The good news is, you can dramatically speed up the process. Instead of wasting months or years chasing a bad idea, you can find out if it’s going to work in weeks or even days. In fact, the process I’m outlining here often destroys a bad idea within minutes.
You waste WAY less time. Instead of banging your head against the wall for months or even years before you finally figure everything out, you can adapt quickly and get to the right idea within a matter of weeks or months. It’s at least 20X faster. Probably more like 100X.
So, let’s dive in:
#1. Make Sure Your Blog Is Actually Viable (Not All Are)
Important: The ideas in this section are subtle and hard to grasp. Reread it several times, and think about it carefully. We have tested it on thousands of students starting their blogs, and there’s no question it’s correct, but it’s easy to misinterpret these rules. When in doubt, consult an expert (like us).
It’s not fun to think about, but if there’s no chance in hell of your blog succeeding, wouldn’t you rather find out right now?
Well, sometimes you can.
One of the most damaging myths about blogging is the belief that you can start a successful blog targeting anyone, almost as if it’s a one-size-fits-all technology for getting “free traffic.” But it’s not true. The fact is, blogs are good at getting traffic when targeting specific kinds of audiences, and they are absolutely terrible when targeting others.
It’s also shockingly common to target the wrong audience. Of the thousands of students who come into our courses, more than 95% begin by targeting a poor or nonexistent audience that will never be able to support a successful blog, no matter how much time they put into it, and we have to use this checklist to push them in the right direction.
Surprising, right? You probably had no idea there was such a thing as a “bad audience,” but it’s true.
Here are some examples:
To be clear, I’m not saying you can’t target these audiences. I’m saying blogging is an inefficient way of attracting them. You’re better off using advertising, public relations, attending conferences, etc.
Of course, the obvious question is, “Why?” Why is it that some audiences are well-suited to blogs and others aren’t?
Let’s step through the criteria, and I believe it will become more clear. A good audience…
Interesting, right? And perhaps a bit unsettling?
The good news is, a rule disqualifying a bad audience usually suggests the adjustment you need to make. For example, the audience of “parents” was disqualified by the rule that a good audience must “share the same perspective,” but by subdividing the audience down to “middle-class mothers of toddlers,” we were able to find a viable audience.
Sometimes though, you can’t make a topic workable, no matter what you do. In those cases, look at the bright side: you just saved a lot of effort by finding out now rather than after years of trying.
But what if your idea for a blog is indeed viable? Well then, it’s time to do a little good old-fashioned espionage!
#2. Spy on Popular Blogs to See What’s Working
Thankfully, this next step is a lot less painful than the first one. It’s also much easier to explain.
Once you’ve verified your blog has potential, you need to study the blogs your audience already reads.
For instance, let’s say you want to start a blog for new homeowners. You’ll teach them how to make simple repairs themselves, maximize the value of their home, save money on their mortgage, and so on.
After going through the checklist above, you discover it meets all the criteria, and — alakazam, alakazoo — you have a workable blog topic. What’s next?
Well, the average new homeowner is in their 30s. Many are also parents. Chances are, a lot of them also have at least a passing interest in personal finance. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to afford a home.
So, here’s what you do: study the top personal finance and parenting blogs. In particular, you need to uncover their most popular content and learn from the patterns you see.
When you finish, you’ll have a list of ideas for blog posts backed by evidence of popularity. While nothing is guaranteed in life, the success of these posts will be far better than anything you might dream up in the shower and decide to write about. As a result, you should have a much easier time outpacing your competitors.
But it’s still worth testing a few of them, just to make sure…
Test Your Ideas on Medium (Not WordPress!)
At this point, you might be tempted to grab a hosting account, install WordPress, and start blogging your heart out, but don’t.
Yes, you’ve done some cool research. Yes, your ideas for blog posts are far more likely to succeed. Yes, you’re way ahead of most beginning bloggers.
But I hate to break it to ya…
There’s an excellent chance you analyzed all those popular posts from other blogs your audience reads and came to all the wrong conclusions. Before going through all the effort of creating a new blog, I recommend testing your ideas on perhaps the coolest blogging platform out there right now:
If you’ve never heard of it, Medium is the brainchild of Ev Williams, the geeky and brilliant co-founder of Twitter. He created it to become the largest, easiest to use blogging platform in the world, and he’s managed to attract over 30 million monthly readers, as well as celebrity writers like Matthew McConnaughhay and James Altucher.
And here’s the really cool part: you can write on Medium and get the chance to have your writing exposed to its 30 million readers, free of charge. Here’s how:
Now, here’s the big question:
How do you know you’re ready to switch over to WordPress?
Should you target a certain number of claps? Shares? Comments?
Actually, none of the above. In my opinion, none of those really mean much.
You’re much better off paying attention to your outreach success rate. You see, influencers are an excellent judge of content. If you can convince 20% of the blogs you email to share your post, and you can hit at least 20% on three different posts, I believe you’re ready to start your own blog.
If your outreach success rate hits 20%, there’s also an excellent chance at least one of your posts will end up featured on Medium, either on one of the interests or maybe even the front page, driving thousands upon thousands of new readers to your post. Again, not only will that help you build your audience, but it’s an excellent indication you’re on the right track, and it’s time to branch off on your own.
Note: If you’re familiar with the Lean Startup, the approach we’re following here is similar to the idea of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Instead of creating a product though, you are creating the minimum amount of content necessary to test your post ideas.
Get a Clear (Not Clever!) Domain Name
So, lots of influencers are sharing your post on Medium, and you’re itching to crank up your own site and snag some of that traffic?
Cool. Let’s just take it one step at a time, and the first step is getting a clear domain name.
Put yourselves in the shoes of the visitor. You’re browsing the web, and you see a headline for a blog post that catches your attention. Maybe a friend on Facebook shared it with you, maybe it came up on a Google search, or maybe it’s just a link in another article you’re reading. Regardless, you click the link, and consciously or not, you’re asking yourself a single question as you browse through it…
“Is this for me?“
Within a few seconds, you have to decide whether to keep reading the post or move on to something else, and the only way you’ll stay is if it’s relevant to you. Not just the post, either. When you’re deciding, you’ll take in the design of the page, other post headlines, and, yes, the domain name.
For example, consider Entrepreneur.com. Is there any doubt who the site is for? Entrepreneurs, of course!
How about MakeaLivingWriting.com? Obviously, it’s for people who want to make a living as a writer.
Neither names are clever, but they help you decide to stay or go by clearly articulating who they are helping. That’s what a good domain name does.
Of course, all the great domain names are taken, right?
Not necessarily. Here are three different methods for finding the perfect domain name for your site:
Use these three strategies to make a list of 10-20 domain names you’d be happy having. You can write them out in a word processor, or if you want to get fancy, you can use a tool like NameStation to generate a lot of ideas at once.
Once you’re finished brainstorming, head over to a site like NameCheap to see if they are available. Click “Bulk Search” in the search box and paste in your domain names to check them all at once.
Sometimes you get lucky, and one of your favorites is available. If not, you either have to head back to the drawing board for another brainstorming session, or you can go to a premium domain name marketplace like Sedo.
Either way, one word of advice:
Don’t get hung up on your domain name. While it’s certainly helpful to have a good one, there are thousands of hugely popular sites with terrible domain names no one understands.
In other words, it’s not really a “make or break” factor for your site. Give yourself a few days or maybe a week to brainstorm ideas, and then make a decision, because once you have your domain name, you are ready to…
Switch Over to WordPress
You knew we had to run into some technical stuff sooner or later, right?
Well, here it is. There’s no code, complicated software to install or anything like that, but there are a lot of little steps you need to follow in exactly the right order.
It’s not too bad, though, I promise. You can do everything here in about an hour, and I have step-by-step guides to walk you through every little detail.
Let’s get started…
Set Up WordPress the Right Way
The great thing about having a self-hosted WordPress site is you’re in total control. You can change how it looks, what functionality it has, improve its performance, and almost anything else you can imagine.
Complete control also comes at a cost: complexity. There are thousands upon thousands of themes and hundreds of thousands of plug-ins to choose from, and you can easily lose weeks or even months of your life wading through them all and trying to figure out what’s best for you.
So, I’m going to take a minimalist approach here. Rather than giving you a huge list of things to do, I’m reducing it down to the absolute minimum, and I’ll even recommend some specific themes and plug-ins. Before we begin though, let me be clear about one thing:
Your content matters more than anything else.
You can have a site that’s ugly, clunky, and slow, but if you have great content, you’ll still get a lot of traffic. Not the opposite, though. You can have the most beautiful, user-friendly website online, but if the content sucks, nobody will give a damn about you.
So, don’t allow yourself to get lost in these details. Focus on making your website functional, and then you can always come back and make it unique or beautiful later.
That said, here are some different options to consider:
The Simplest Option: Elegant Themes
Cost: $89 per Year
You might wince a little at the annual price, but the advantage of Elegant Themes is they give you everything you need in one package:
Now, is every piece of it the best?
No. In fact, I don’t think they are the best in any single category.
But the combination of everything put together makes it far easier to get started. The design is also top-notch. That’s why they’ve become the most popular theme company on the market with over 400,000 paying customers.
The bottom line:
If you’re looking for a simple, stable solution that will last you for years and doesn’t require a “tech guy” to get up and running, Elegant Themes is the way to go.
The Free Option: A Hodgepodge of Stuff
So… what if you can’t really afford to spend any money on your blog? What should you do then?
Cobble together a hodgepodge of free stuff into a workable site.
Here’s what I would do:
Sumo will only last until you hit 500 subscribers, and then you have to either switch to something else or start paying a rather high monthly fee to stay with them. You also have to update everything separately, and you’ll have far less support if anything breaks.
To me, those are some pretty big downsides, and I really wouldn’t recommend it, but sometimes you don’t have any other choice. If that’s the case, give it a try.
A Quick Word about Caching
Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to install a caching plug-in before you start getting too much traffic (100+ visitors per day). The two most popular options are plug-ins called WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.
If you’re looking for simplicity, I recommend WP Super Cache. You can install it, and you’re done. Here’s a video where a guy gets everything set up in three minutes:
Later, when you’re getting 10,000+ visitors per month, you might think about getting a tech guy who really knows the ins and outs of either plug-in to configure it for you. It really helps, but it’s not worth the trouble or expense for a new blog.
Grow to $1,000 per Month (And Beyond)
In the immortal words of Harry Connick Junior…
Up to this point, you’ve published posts on Medium until it’s clear people love what you write, you switched over to your self-hosted WordPress site, and now you are up and ready for the world. So, here’s the big question:
When does the money start rolling in? After all, that’s the point of all this, right?
Well… good news and bad news.
The good news is you’ve done the hard part. By far, the hardest part of building a popular blog is writing posts other people enjoy reading. Nothing else even comes close.
The bad news?
That’s just the beginning.
Now that your blog is up and running, you have to learn the ins and outs of getting traffic, building your email list, and monetizing your site. Even if you have top-notch writing skills, it’ll still take you at least 3-6 months to figure all that out.
But think about it this way…
Nothing worth doing is quick or easy.
Personally, I was a slow learner, and it took me three years to reach $1,000 a month. That’s a long time, right? Well, two years after that, we crossed $100,000 per month, and we’ve never looked back.
Getting started is the hardest part. It might take you a few months or even a few years to build up momentum. And you might feel a little dumb for investing so much time to it, but then that momentum builds and builds and builds, and you wake up one morning to the stupefying yet delicious realization that you’ll never have to worry about money again.
That’s what happened to me. Might happen to you too.
At the end of the day though, there’s only one way to find out:
Get started and see what happens.
About the Author: Jon Morrow is the CEO of Smart Blogger. Check out his new blog Unstoppable and read the launch post that went viral: 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face.
Choosing a marketing agency to partner with is a lot like well youve heard the analogies. Its a lot like dating marriage buying a car finding a needle in a haystack. Each of these examples circle back to the same general idea that some though https://t.
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Have you spent significant time growing your blog and online business?
Do you know that you have the ability to grow your business more, but feel like there’s something missing?
In this episode, I will share how you can use Mastermind groups to transform your business.
Listen to This Episode
Ten Years in Business
On January 8th, 2008, my life changed. It was the day I made my first dollar on the internet.
In fact, I made $70 that day.
For the first time – I was able to say that you could actually make money online.
It has been a decade, and there have been many challenges along the way.
But it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my lifetime.
One of the key reasons for my success in my business have been mastermind groups.
What is a Mastermind Group?
The mastermind principle is a concept promoted by Napoleon Hill. It is “the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony”.
The Role of Mastermind Groups
There's one thing I'm sure about – I would not have lasted in business if not for my mastermind groups.
When I started my business, I knew that I had to network and connect with other entrepreneurs.
But the most influential mastermind group for me has been my Greenroom Mastermind.
I've been meeting with these guys almost every week for over seven years.
These guys, Cliff Ravenscraft, Mark Mason, Pat Flynn, Ray Edwards and Michael Stelzner, have helped me grow my business in huge ways.
Here are a few results that I attribute to being a part of this mastermind group:
Why YOU should be in a Mastermind Group
While there are MANY benefits to being a part of a mastermind group, I'll share a few here.
Who should be in your mastermind group
Everyone's not a good fit for your mastermind group. You want to have people who are…
How to Run Mastermind Meetings
There are different formats for how to run a mastermind group. Our chosen format is very simple:
Why I'm starting a Paid Mastermind Group
When I left my job in 2014, I started offering one-on-one coaching. Many of my clients have gone on to be very successful.
In some cases, they've doubled, tripled and even quadrupled their businesses.
There is something significant to being able to invest into the life of someone else on a one-to-one basis.
But I've also seen how much value comes from masterminding.
Being a part of a high-functioning mastermind has taught me what it takes to do them well.
I want to be able to invest at a much deeper level into 4 – 6 individuals.
Announcing The Blogger Dream Team
I'm my coaching and mastermind group experiences into this new project.
The Blogger Dream Team is a paid mastermind group with a coaching component.
During our mastermind calls, I provide guidance as I do in my one-on-one coaching calls.
But you also get to tap into the experience, training, education, specialized knowledge and influence of the other members.
And there are some other things I have planned that will unfold as we go along.
And no – it's NOT for everyone.
Here's who I'm looking for:
It is NOT for you if:
What's the cost?
I decided to keep the cost of membership in the Blogger Dream Team the same as the cost for my one-on-one coaching.
For $1,000/month, you get my guidance plus the masterminding aspect of being a part of the dream team.
If you're interested in being a part, go ahead and click here to apply now.
The post How to Use Mastermind Groups to Transform Your Business appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.