When we talk about digital marketing, one of the most frequently asked questions is “how to create a successful blog?”. When I started creating my first blogs in 2007, the internet and its blogosphere was something very different from what we have today. There was less competition and less knowledge available, but being able to create a successful blog or stand out from competitors was a much easier process than it is today, now that there are millions of blogs available working to generate traffic and compete for first places of organic search.
However, while competition exists and is fiercer than ever, there is still room to create a blog and succeed with it. In fact, written content remains key to generate traffic, leads or sales. A blog still makes sense for anyone who works with digital marketing, being one of the best ways to really make money on the internet. A blog with good content, good traffic and a good monetization strategy can make all the difference in your digital portfolio.
Whether you are a digital entrepreneur or a company, a blog is crucial to your digital marketing strategy. It is unthinkable these days not to take advantage of the potential in a blog, especially regarding the generation of traffic and leads. Although a blog requires lots of work, some consistency and regularity, you need to (almost) always include a blog in your digital communication strategy.
There are several reasons why you want to create a blog, over other existing content formats. This does not mean that you will not be able to create a video channel on Youtube, or keep a podcast, for example. But since we’re talking about blogging, it’s important that you understand why creating a blog and how it can help you and your digital business grow at a fast pace.
Creating a blog (and succeeding with it) can contribute a lot to the growth of your authority in your niche market. When I first started my blog in 2008, it helped me a lot to promote my authority over certain subjects, since people who read my content interpreted my texts as from someone who really understands what they are writing. That authority led me to design the Afiliados Brasil event (Affiliates Brazil) and a few other businesses, which I probably would not have developed if I had not kept my blog for so many years.
A blog is key to help selling whatever it is. Just as a blog can do wonders for your authority, so can your sales. If you keep a blog for a while, you will realize that your loyal readers end up buying anything from you. A blog helps a lot to build strong connections with other people and this is extremely powerful when it comes to selling something. Of course, the quality of your product needs to match the expectations of your audience, otherwise it could create frustration and drive your readers away.
When I started working with blogs in 2008, I was a stranger in that area, both in Portugal and in Brazil. In fact, I had never had any kind of contact with Brazil, much less imagined myself traveling from Portugal to Brazil as often as I do nowadays. That happened because my content was found by other blogs and Brazilian readers who started to refer my content. I saw an opportunity there, and began to produce my content directed to the Brazilian audience.
If you imagine that you can be found by being a digital marketing expert when someone types it on Google, the opportunities that visibility will give you are absolutely fantastic. A blog has the power to help you be found in a way that other content formats do not allow, and this is an incredible competitive advantage.
A blog has the power to help you educate your audience. If you imagine that every day millions of people around the world are looking for solutions to their problems by performing a simple Google search, it is an incredible business opportunity. Everyone is looking for solutions using Google, and you may be the right person to help and educate your audience about one or more issues.
Contrary to what many people think, a blog can also be a great psychological exercise. Writing and reading your own content helps improve your communication skills, the quality of your writing, your thinking skills and, of course, helps you study and deepen into several topics. Whenever you intend to write about a certain subject, you must also do some research work, which makes you study, read and enlighten yourself before creating your own texts.
When we talk about creating a successful blog, there are several steps that you can choose to follow. There are successful blogs in lots of areas, on various platforms, developed in very different technologies and even written in several languages. There are blogs with excellent organic traffic, blogs with lots of social media traffic, etc. In fact, there are lots of ways to create a successful blog. However, as far as the technical part is concerned, you will have to dedicate yourself and comply with at least the minimum. The difference between a successful blog and an unsuccessful one is usually the amount of traffic that each of them receives.
More important than having a beautiful layout, or extensive and extremely well written content, you need to have a strategy. Creating and nurturing a blog is something that requires strategy and good planning. In addition, it is extremely demanding (more than 90% of blogs do not last more than 12 months), just like any other digital business. Without a well-defined planning and strategy, you will eventually give up halfway and be part of that statistic I mentioned above.
On the other hand, if you are persistent and follow the various steps outlined in this article, your path will be a lot easier and you will get there and earn a fair share with your hard work for sure. In addition, a blog will certainly give you incredible authority and visibility, what you can channel to different other projects or capitalize on future ventures you wish to build.
I prepared this article in order to comprehend all subjects that are key for you to succeed and make your work a little easier. Creating a successful blog is not a complex science. You just need to understand how it all works, what you really need to do and how to do it. Prepared?
When we talk about market niches, the reality is that there are thousands of incredible opportunities in the digital world and it is up to you to choose one of those themes and prepare a strategy to deliver distinguished content and monetize that traffic. If you do not know how to find niche markets, I recommend you read my article on finding profitable niche markets.
More important than choosing a good niche is to choose one where you feel comfortable, both from the point of view of an author who creates content, and from a student’s who needs to daily learn about it. Assuming no one knows everything, you are going to teach people something and will surely learn something as well. If you choose a subject you do not master or do not like it that much, it is likely that, in the long run, frustration will start to take over.
According to this study by Wpromote, those are the most popular categories in blogs. It is easy to understand that there is much less competition in blogs about economics than in blogs about music, fashion or cars. Taking a look at those topics, you are going to have an idea of what will be a competitive niche and a not so competitive one. Obviously, that data changes greatly from one country to another. However, the basic principle is similar. If you like music, but also enjoy fitness, maybe the second option is more interesting for you to work with, since there is a lot less competition.
Pay special attention to your niche market, because some niches are really very difficult and present very fierce competition, as is the case of blogs about traveling. This is one of the most competitive niches and the harder place for you to succeed with your blog.
There are several blogging platforms in the market. You probably even know one or two, like Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumbler, WordPress.org, among others. There are also hybrid platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, among other means that allow the creation and advertising of written, audio and video contents. In fact, there are lots of other platforms and CMS (content management system), but you will understand that a good number of them will not allow you to manage and work the full potential of your blog.
Those are the three main platforms for blogging on the internet. WordPress.org is indeed the most scalable option with which you have the greatest freedom to create and customize your blog, whether it is to offer a different usability and navigation experience, so that you can monetize your content as accurately as possible or to create your own layout and use the power of the WordPress content manager to your advantage.
This article you are reading right now was created using WordPress. In fact, my website and my blog use the WordPress.org technology, making content creation much easier. What is more, WordPress is by far the easiest to use and also the one that offers a much higher level of customization, which allows me to scale faster.
Throughout this article, I will explain to you how to create a successful blog step-by-step using WordPress.org. If you do not feel comfortable with it, because you do not master all the tools, I advise you to look for a web developer. With a low investment, you will be able to create something really great.
Before installing WordPress on a hosting provider, you need to decide which domain to use in your project. Assuming you have already chosen your niche market and have already understood the benefits of using WordPress.org, you will now choose a domain for the project. A domain is the name of your project on the internet, and they may have different extensions, such as “.com.br”, “.com”, “.net”, and so on.
Contrary to what most people think, the extensions are not all the same and do not serve the same purpose. For example, a “.com.br” extension is called ccTLD (country code top- level domain). This means that the extension is automatically associated with the country of Brazil. Just like a “.pt” extension is automatically associated with the country of Portugal.
One of the things few people think of is that a “.com.br” domain is automatically recognized by Google as a top-level Brazilian domain. It will automatically define that the blog has the priority to attract traffic from Brazil. Even in Google Search Console, you cannot change the target country of your blog, which means that the priority of the blog is to rank in Google Brazil.
When it comes to a domain with international extension like “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, etc., it is considered a gTLD, that is, a generalist top-level domain. For that type of domain, you can set up international targeting in Search Console and choose which country you want to target users from. If you choose the United States, you are telling Google that your priority is to index your content on Google.com.
In both situations, it does not mean that your blog and its content will only be indexed in this or that version of Google search engine. Not at all! In fact, your content will also be indexed on Google.com or other local versions of the search engine. Rankings are composed of several factors, including backlinks, which means you can receive links back from Portugal and your content will keep well ranked on Google.com, even if you have a domain with the extension “.com.br”.
If you intend to register a “.com.br” domain, I recommend using Registro.br for this. If your goal is to create a blog for Brazil, an extension of this type can make a lot of difference, although it is not technically an advantage. You can achieve the same rank level with a .com domain. To make a successful blog in Brazil, you do not necessarily need to register a “.com.br” domain. For several years my blog EscolaDinheiro.com had a high organic traffic in Brazil.
If you perform a search in Registro.br for the domain name you want, the system will automatically notify you whether that domain is available for purchase or not. The buying process is very simple. Contrary to what happened a few years ago, Google no longer prioritizes domains with keywords. This means that you can succeed with any type of domain in any type of niche market.
The choice of a good domain today is essentially a case of name recognition. A simple, easy-to-remember name is extremely important in a long-term digital marketing strategy. Therefore, try to excel on the choice of your domain so that it is understood by your audience more easily. Try to avoid joining words that end and begin with the same letter, such as “saudeemagrecer.com.br”. Joining two letters “e” may be difficult for your audience to recognize your domain name.
Here are some ideas for you to correctly choose the domain for your blog:
To create a successful blog, one of the most important aspects is your infrastructure. Unfortunately, there are still many professionals who do not choose the best technical infrastructure for their projects and this could prove to be a serious problem when it comes to traffic and being online. In Brazil there are lots of hosting providers with really poor service. Since your blog cannot be offline for a single minute, the solution is certainly choosing an international hosting.
The advantage of using an international hosting service, besides its scalability, is certainly because of the quality of the service and investment. If you choose a premium hosting, you will pay a fraction of the price of a hosting in Brazil and still have access to a very higher level of support, and technical resources way advanced.
One of the coolest companies that I refer to for those who do not have hosting yet is Blue Host. WordPress itself recommends BlueHost as a hosting company for anyone who wants to create a blog using WordPress.org. Therefore, you can be sure that the company is really very good and offers services of the highest level, assuring resources and a very attractive price. BlueHost also hosts more than 2 million websites and blogs around the world, which is certainly a sign of the competence and quality of its service.
Blue Host also offers specific hosting plan for anyone who wants to create a blog with WordPress.org, where you can have access to a free domain name, SSL security certificate, 24/7 support team and installation of your blog with just one click. All this for only $3.95 per month, what is about R$13 per month for a highly professional hosting service.
Of course, there are many other hosting companies that you can hire to host your future blog. However, when choosing which one to hire, take into account several important aspects that can make a big difference in the future, especially if your blog grows and becomes popular. These are the main things you should evaluate before choosing your hosting:
Above all, look for a reliable company that offers quality service for a fair price.
Assuming you have already purchased your hosting, you are closer to creating a WordPress blog. To install WordPress on your hosting server, I recommend that you use the installation service in one click. This makes your job easier and you will not have to understand a lot of totally unnecessary things like creating databases, writing permissions to files, etc. Installing and setting up a WordPress blog can be very confusing for anyone who has never worked with such things, let alone an FTP (file transfer protocol) software.
I recommend that you watch this video from Blue Host, which explains step-by-step how to install WordPress in just one click. The appearance of the control panel may vary depending on the company you choose to host your blog, but in general terms, it will be basically the same process.
If you prefer to install WordPress manually, creating the database and all permissions, it is up to you. To make your work easier, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to install your WordPress blog on your hosting:
Let’s start by downloading WordPress from the official website https://wordpress.org/. WordPress is an open source and free software. Click the button to download the latest version of WordPress. I recommend downloading the .zip version. You do not need to register on the site to download it, and the files are safe to use. Don’t worry!
After installing WordPress, you no longer need to download those files. Updates to the software will be done automatically and/or through your WordPress control panel. However, whenever you want to create a new blog, you will have to download those files and repeat the process.
Now that you’ve downloaded WordPress, you need to unzip the file to gain access to the files and folders that make up the WordPress software. Each file has a purpose.
All of those files that make up WordPress are necessary for the proper functioning of the system. However, there is a particular file that you will need to rename. The file is “wp- config-sample.php”. You will need to rename it to “wp-config.php”. Just edit the file name. At this stage you will not have to open the file and edit its content.
If you have purchased your hosting with Cpanel, you must have received your access information to the Cpanel of your hosting account by e-mail. You will now need to enter the Cpanel of your hosting account then go to the file manager and upload all of those WordPress files directly to your server.
After entering Cpanel, you will have a control panel similar to the above. Maybe you have access to a less current version of Cpanel and so the look is slightly different, however, the available features are exactly the same. Look for the “File Manager” and click to access the FTP of your site, where you can upload the WordPress files.
When entering the file manager, you should look for the folder “public_html”. That folder represents everything that is visually public at the address of your blog on the internet. Anything you upload into that folder will automatically appear in the home of your primary domain.
Inside the “public_html” folder, I suggest you click the “Upload” button to upload all files pertaining to your WordPress. Basically, you will be uploading all the files into the public folder of your hosting and, that way, we will be closer to creating a blog in WordPress. However, it is missing the creation of the database to communicate with WordPress and store all the information pertaining to its contents, which is the next step.
Still in Cpanel, click on “MySQL Databases” to start creating your database. It consists of a database and a user. The user has permissions to write and read the contents stored in that same database.
The first step is to create your new database. Its name always uses the prefix of the name of your hosting account, followed by whatever you want. In the example above, the name of the database would be “homconqu_blogbr”. Enter the name of the database without special characters and click on “Create Database”. Save the database name in a text file, because you will need it later.
In the following step, create the user who will manage the database, write and read its content. The username also uses the prefix of the name of the hosting account, followed by the text that you want. However, the user needs a strong password as well. In user creation, there is a “Password Generator” button to help you create a strong password for that user. I suggest saving both the password and the username in a text file, because we will need this information later.
Next, we need to associate the user to the database. Just select the created user and database and click the “Add” button.
Finally, we need to assign the privileges of the user, which in this case are all, that is, user can create, edit, remove, etc., all content of that database. Click the “Make Changes” button to activate those changes and that part is finished.
To finish setting up WordPress and start installing it, you just need to edit the wp- config.php file that I initially talked about. Although you have already uploaded the file to the server, we will need to edit it and upload it again. As you probably still have the WordPress files you initially uploaded to your hosting, open the folder and edit the wp- config.php file to populate the database, user, and password name. Only that way we will be able to install WordPress.
By editing the wp-config.php file, you only need to fill in the data that appears between inverted commas: “database_name_here”, “username_here” and “password_here”. Edit those three fields with the information of the database and users, save the file in the same format and name, which is wp-config.php, and reload the file to your hosting, replacing the first one.
Lastly, you need to finish installing WordPress. After uploading the wp-config.php file back to your server, you must enter the URL address of your new blog to finish installing WordPress. If you have followed all the steps correctly, the finish page of the WordPress installation will be displayed and you will have finally created your blog. The page will look like this:
Now you just need to give your blog a title, create a username to access the dashboard of your blog, create a strong password and enter your e-mail address to receive WordPress notifications whenever there is something important happening to your blog. If you are just getting started, I recommend enabling the “Prevent search engines from crawling this site” box until your blog is minimally ready and properly structured.
If you are a beginner and have never worked with WordPress, the control panel of your new blog may seem a bit complex, but your learning curve will be very quick, believe me. In a short time you will be so comfortable with this WordPress dashboard that you will have difficulty working with other software or content managers.
On the left side you have all the WordPress navigation menus. Everything you can manage in WordPress is in those menus on the left side. If you want to add a new template to create a different blog, I recommend going to the “Appearance > Themes” tab to search for a layout that makes more sense to you and the project you want to create.
If you already have an idea of the type of template you want and/or would like to create a blog with a specific theme, keep in mind that WordPress has also predicted this type of situation with its advanced search filters.
You can click on the “Feature filter” menu and define what type of template you are researching to create your blog. There are hundreds of thousands of different WordPress themes. There is no rule on the type of theme you should use to create a successful blog. There are really successful blogs using all sorts of themes, so this will not be a problem. Choose a layout that you identify with, and most importantly, you consider the ideal layout for the style of audience your blog will attract.
Once you enable one or more of those filters, you will have access to lots of free, community-designed WordPress themes. You can choose any of the themes and activate it in your new blog.
Your blog will automatically display the template you have selected. Now, you only need to make the necessary changes so that it is the way you want it to be. I advise you to work in partnership with a web developer who can help you set up your layout correctly and make any changes that you consider important. If you are a beginner, you probably do not understand how all that works and what the possible settings are.
If you prefer to use a paid theme for WordPress, there are several serious companies in the market selling cool themes. There are two companies that I particularly like and recommend to anyone who wants to buy paid theme for WordPress:
I have talked about the importance of content marketing countless times. A good part of the secret of a blog is the quality of its content. If you plan to create a successful blog, know that your content needs to be epic. Doing what your competitors are doing adds absolutely no value to your blog. If you are doing the same, why would people stop reading your competitor’s content to read yours? It does not make any sense!
As Albert Einstein would say, if you are always doing the same things the same way, you cannot expect different results. The reality is that different results only appear when you start doing things differently. That means finding flaws and gaps in the market and filling those needs with epic content that solves most of your users’ issues.
One of the ways to create epic content is to find interesting topics to write about. If you can find needs in your market, you have a better chance of being successful. Regardless of whether you write content, create videos, record podcasts, or use any other content format, the reality is that you will need to create innovative content that meets the needs of your audience. To create good content, you will need to follow these steps:
Without good strategy and good planning, it will be very difficult to create a successful blog in any area. Planning is always important, especially for creating a blog where there is a need of commitment to writing and creating content. If you analyze the success stories in Brazil, you will understand that blogs and YouTube channels, for example, have a great commitment to their audience. Porta dos Fundos promises two videos a week on specific days, Kéfera Buchmann does the same thing, etc. They all work with content planning.
Here are some strategies for you to develop ideas for new articles:
I have already said it here that it is not worth to have a beautiful blog with lots of content if no one reads it. Regardless of your opinion about your texts or blog, what matters is having readers and people using your content. For you to be able to do this, you need to understand a little bit more about SEO and how to increase organic traffic to your blog. In fact, both subjects walk hand in hand.
By understanding the key points and how search engine optimization (SEO) works, you are going to be one step ahead of your competitors. Understanding how this market works, how Google’s algorithm reads your actions and defines which content is more relevant than others, is key to succeeding with your blog. To explore more about those topics, I recommend you read these two articles I wrote:
If you follow the steps I recommend in those two articles, you will better understand how all it works and what criteria you need to take into consideration when writing your texts, starting with optimization, structure of texts, the importance of using a good SEO plugin, how to optimize the title and meta description of your content, how to create backlinks and work on the marketing of your texts, etc.
One of the worst things you can do is not to set goals for your blog. Creating a blog and setting goals can be frustrating, since you will have no idea of where you are going to. Setting goals is crucial not only for you to stay motivated with your writing, but mainly for you to understand what you need to do to improve your metrics.
If you are starting out, probably setting some goals for the number of monthly visitors to your blog can be important. However, I recommend you separate the number of monthly visitors into types of traffic:
If you set goals for each of those metrics, you can easily follow the evolution of your blog and its growth. Assuming you are starting now, setting a first goal of 1,000 organic visits per month may be a good start. When reaching that goal, you should set new goals for the growth of your blog. That way you are creating small goals out of a bigger one, which ultimately is to create a successful blog.
One of the best ways for you to communicate with your readers is by e-mail, that’s for sure. A good e-mail marketing strategy can make all the difference in retaining readers and monetizing your digital business. A good list of e-mails with good content has an immeasurable value for your business. That said, I recommend you create a newsletter and ways for your readers to subscribe to your e-mail list.
Here on my blog, for example, subscribing to my mailing list is quite simple and is always present and accessible to my readers. It helps a lot to grow my list and keep my readers updated with all the news and new articles that I am publishing here.
The green bar is shown in all articles of my blog and helps to identify the possibility of subscribing to the blog newsletter. That bar follows the scrolling of the screen and is fixed on top of all articles, ensuring a greater prominence for this possibility. However, there will always be those who do not pay attention to it, reason why I created another solution too. Take a look:
After a few seconds on my blog, all the readers will automatically receive a pop-up asking to be part of my mailing list. While this may disrupt some people’s reading a bit, it is a very effective method of capturing e-mails. Obviously, this pop-up appears only once at each visit, ensuring it does not disturb the continuous reading of my articles.
There are several solutions of this type that you can choose to use to grow your e-mail list and keep a database of readers who would like to keep track of your work. This is extremely powerful and a great tool for you to advertise your new articles, for example. There are several benefits to start a list of e-mails, including:
Although it is not mandatory for you to publish one article a day or one a week, it is important that you are consistent. In an early stage, I advise you to create content with some frequency so that your blog starts gaining some momentum and generate organic traffic. However, in the short or medium term, you can change this strategy to one article a week or less. I have always enjoyed having consistency when publishing content, since it creates greater interest and traffic in a more consistent way as well.
Still, more important than consistency is the quality of the content. It is preferable to write only one epic content a week knowing that your readers will love it, to publish two or three articles a week that have no value at all.
It is incredible how the vast majority of people who start a blog do not invest a cent in its growth. In fact, most people simply do not want to invest anything, but are constantly looking for return. I often say that if you do not want to invest in your business, why would other people want to do it? You have to be the example. If you believe in your project, investing is part of the equation.
It makes no sense for you to create a blog and not invest a penny in its promotion or development. Hiring a freelance developer is not a high investment. Promoting your Facebook posts also does not need to be a high investment. Hiring a designer to make your logo in a professional way is also not a high investment. However, all those things make it easy to distinguish a beginner from a professional.
Consider creating a budget for the initial startup of your blog. Imagine that you are willing to invest $1,500 to begin with. Concretely define what you intend to do with that investment and what areas you intend to invest in, as I said earlier:
A return is expected of every investment, so in addition to investing you need to monetize your own blog. At an early stage this will be more difficult, but it is very important that you have a monetization strategy anyway. In the short to medium term, I recommend that you set a percentage of your revenue to be reinvested in the blog growth. Get started with 20% and analyze raising that amount and continue to invest heavily in the growth of your blog, to the point that you can reduce your investment while keeping your revenues high.
It is not worth to have a blog if you do not make money from it. Unless your goal is to simply write as hobby, a blog needs to be monetized. There are two ways you can monetize a blog: the direct way and indirect way. Those two ways determine the way you will handle your blog and the purpose of it.
If you choose the indirect monetization way, you will probably want to create a personal or professional blog. Indirect monetization is related to things such as being called to give lectures, giving in-person trainings, writing a book with a publisher, etc. There are always indirect ways to monetize the work you are doing with your blog. It is impossible to predict everything that can happen when creating a blog, however, it is quite possible that several of those things I have mentioned can effectively happen if your blog becomes a success.
If you choose to directly monetize your blog, you will need to work with affiliate programs and ways to monetize the traffic that your blog receives. There are many ways for you to work with blog monetization, from Google ads, affiliate programs, information products, among other things.
I recommend you read my article How to Make Money on the Internet — The Complete Guide, where I explain the different options available in the market and how you should monetize your blog in an effective way. Still, I always recommend that you test and analyze the results of each of those options. What works for the A blog may not work on blog B, even if they are from exactly the same niche market.
Now that you have the vast majority of tools and know exactly what is important and relevant when it comes to creating a successful blog, it is time to get your hands on the dirt and start your new projects. Above all, I would like you to understand that creating a blog is not the same as a 100-meter run. In fact, it is more like a marathon, where you only beat those who are more persistent and mentally stronger.
The vast majority of blogs are abandoned because of lack of persistence of their authors. It is not an easy path, but when things go well, success is guaranteed. And believe me, a blog can do more for your career and your professional life than anything else in this world.