The Ultimate Guide To Building a Successful Blog | Your 30 Day Plan!
Fast Start Blogging Success
Today I wanted to present my own personal plan for Blogging Success – a plan that could be followed and executed in as little as 30 days and one that, new, intermediate and even experienced bloggers can get value out of it. This is pretty well the complete system I used to create IncomeDiary.com.
My Blogging eCourse has helped 1000’s get online and become bloggers but with this 30 Day Plan I wanted to create something that will help the newbie blogger follow on from the eCourse while also acting as a reminder to all us experienced bloggers.
Special Note: I am calling this a 30 Day Plan and all the steps can be completed in 30 days – but of course if your preference is to take things slower and take longer over it, that is possible also.
My Goal here is to help as many people as possible make their first dollars online in 30 Days or less and remember:
The longer you’re not taking action, the more money you’re losing
I should also say that the ORDER of Tasks is only a suggestion – this is the order that I would suggest but if you are an experienced blogger you may well have accomplished some of the days tasks already.
Additionally this is a post I intend to update on a regular basis. I might even create a book out of this post at some later date. You will note that with some topics I have gone into more detail than others, simply because I had not covered those topics in much detail before. My main goal here is to go beyond what appears on the Blogging eCourse so topics covered on the eCourse will get for the moment slightly less attention here.
I also encourage you to keep with The Plan – for some of you there will be a lot of new material here, stuff you have never come across before even, but a curious mind is a great help with learning and the more you learn about blogging, the more you will make online
This has been a great post to put together, a sort of MASSIVE TOP LIST in some ways. Please don’t be overawed with the amount of tasks – the important thing is to complete the tasks and even if it took you 30 weeks rather than 30 days you will ultimately be a far better blogger for it.
Also in particular note my Day 17 Contest and my offer to all of you who comment on this post before 15th June 2010.
I am also fully aware that sometimes new bloggers think they cannot replicate my success or that of other Pro-Bloggers – but really it is never to late to start. Indeed in some ways today is a better time to start than ever because there is more help available than ever and also remember what I have done with IncomeDiary.com has been accomplished in just over 12 months. Oh, and at the risk of repeating myself – if a 21 year old, dyslexic, college dropout like me can do it — why not you?
UPDATE: Since creating this post, 1000’s of people have taken part and enjoyed the guide, however so people have asked for more. I highly recommend you check out Become a Blogger which has all the tutorials and videos you will need to set up your blog, monetize it and then drive traffic to it. The program was created by Yaro Starak and Gideon Shalwick who I both know and was able to organize a $1 trial for all IncomeDiary readers so that you can try it with practically no risk!
Let me know your thought and comments on this post — and of course your questions about any specific days task. As I said, I will be expanding on this post so your feedback will be a huge help in that respect.
To Our Success
PS: Before you start, you may want to briefly read my Blogging Start Up Mistakes.
Blog Your Way To Success – 30 Day Plan
Day 1: Getting Your Blog Online
It’s real simple, all you need to do to get your blog online is to buy your domain name, your web hosting, connect them together and then install your blog. If you have not already done so – you should also get my 7 Day Blogging eCourse
I personally recommend you:
Buy your domain from GoDaddy for $8.99/year and you can receive a 10% discount when you use the coupon code: cjcsave10
Buy your webhosting from HostGator for $4.99/month and you can get your first month for 1cent when you use the coupon code: Retireat21
Once you have done this, login to your GoDaddy account and update your nameservers with the ones HostGator gives you. After this all you need to do is the 10 second WordPress install from your hosting CPanel – as detailed in this Post
Day 2: Editing Your Theme Preferences
Once you have installed your blog you need to choose and install your theme. I personally use and highly recommend ThemeForest. Choose the theme of your choice and then to install it, log in to your WordPress Admin and on the sidebar you should see a tab called appearance, then click Add New Theme. Once there, go to the top and click Upload, find your theme file and click Install Now. To set it as your theme, go to Themes and activate it.
If like me you’re using ThemeForest then you should now see a button at the bottom of the Admin sidebar with the name of your Theme. Here you are able to play around with all the options of your theme, add advertisers, choose the size of images, featured posts and more. As well as this, you need to go to the Widgets page which is also under Appearance and drag the widgets you want to use for your blog.
Another thing I suggest you do is go down to settings and click discussion and tick the box, Enable threaded comments – this will allow readers to reply to specific comments. Another way to improve the look of your comments is to have a picture of you next to your comment, you can see that I do this on my blog. Most themes come with this already installed, however every user has to set their picture themselves at Gravatar. Once you have set it up, it will update all past comments on every blog with your picture and will include it in any future ones.
Day 3: Customizing Your Blog Design
I have used dozens of designers in the past, a lot come and go and it can be really hard to keep just one. However for those of you who don’t know where to get designers, here’s what I would do.
I would start by visiting TalkFreelance, which is a design forum, they have a few good designers looking for work, click here to see those people. If that didn’t work, I would try other forums such as Sitepoint, Digitalpoint and WarriorForum.
If it was just a header or logo change I needed, I would probably opt for a design competition, either at http://99designs.com or http://logomyway.com where you can sometimes get over 500 entries for your contest.
Day 4: Adding Logos, Favicons and further customizing your theme
OK, so you have had a designer create a logo for you or you have made one yourself. If you are using ThemeForest then this next bit is quite easy. Just click on the name of your theme in the LH menu of your Admin area and you should see [Theme] Options. The screenshot below is from my RetireAt21.com site where I use the the Sahifa theme from ThemeForest.
Editing a ThemeForest theme to add Logo etc
This is H1 Heading
This is H2 Heading
This is H3 Heading
Initially I suggest you just do a dummy post and play around with it – trying different styles and previewing it to see what you like. The great thing about WordPress is that you can save a draft and preview your changes
Note: I am only going into the simplest of stuff here – but it will I hope inspire you to find out more. (To be curious and learn even more)
If you fancy becoming a bit of an HTML Nerd (not essential) they you will find lots of simple code you can use on this Cheat Sheet
Also check out my Blog Post here for some of the more advanced styling options you may like to consider adding to your blog down the line:
Day 8: No Leakage Rule
This is something I speak about a lot, in particular in one of my most recent posts ( http://www.incomediary.com/how-i-made-5000-in-the-first-month-with-a-brand-new-blog ). In simple terms, you don’t link out of your site unless it a commission earning link. i.e – you don’t have a blogroll, you have no advertisers and when you do link to someone, it should be an affiliate link. You then focus on funneling them to the pages that convert highest for you such as your squeeze page/optin box and affiliate posts, this way they either clicked to close their browser or they make you money.
Typically when you link to someone else, such as your advertisers and “friends/blogroll” they are competitors.
OK, I am simplifying things a lot here. I am not a fan of selling advertising on this site because when I do that I am accepting a ‘guaranteed’ but relatively low amount from an advertiser when if I did my job correctly I could earn far more on an affiliate commission offer.
That said, as I will mention later you may wish to consider selling advertising (as I do on RetireAt21.com) – but I personally think it limits your earning potential.
Day 9: Finding Affiliate Programs That Work
There are 1000’s of make money online products that I could promote but to make any money from it you have to pick a product that offers great value and converts well. Firstly I wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, I would choose at least two, preferably one low price point of around $30 and one higher at around $200.
There isn’t any sole place to find products, my top tip is to find products you like and then visit there site and scroll to the bottom, and usually they will have a link saying affiliates with details on how you promote them. A lot of the products I promote come from ClickBank and Commission Junction (CJ) which is basically a marketplace of affiliate programs.
So once you find your product, what makes it convert well? If we knew that, we would all be a lot more well of, however from my experience this is what works for me:
- $1 Trial Offers
- New Products – being the first to promote a new product or service gives you a HUGE advantage.
- A well known brand – most people in America have heard of the GoDaddy adverts, because of that, they by far out pull any other domain registrar I promote.
- The Best Product – I promote loads of theme companies but ThemeForest converts the best because they are simply the best.
- Proof It Works – When it comes to the eBooks I promote, the sales page with a real bank cheque in completely destroys the other sales pages.
These days before promoting any offer I always check out the Sales Page – I have come across some great products with lousy sales pages that have ended up earning me very little. Ask yourself – would this sales page convince me? If it doesn’t convince you then it is unlikely it will convince your readers.
Day 10: Creating Your First Affiliate Post
Affiliate posts are really just like this one, you provide great information on something and at the same endorse a product that you use and know that works. A lot of my income these days comes from blog posts that were created months ago. When you first start out you may not see much point in doing a promotion just to make a few bucks here and there – but I promise you after not too long at all, these amounts add up!
Today I want you to create a post with Affiliate links. Here is how I did mine:
- Find a product you are promoting that out performs anything else, in my case it’s Market Me Tweet which allows users to easily build a HUGE twitter following.
- Write a post on how you use the product to benefit you.
- Softly promote the product and give alternatives, this way if they don’t buy the one you suggest, hopefully they will go for another you mention instead of going else where to find one.
- Keep referring back to this post when ever someone asks you about Twitter or when you mention Twitter in another post.
I bet you didn’t think it was that simple? It really is, so many people think there is some secret to making money blogging but all you have to do is monetize value.
Day 11: Adding Recommended Products / Becoming an Affiliate
OK this is related to Day 9, but I thought I’d include some additional resources, especially if you are struggling to find affiliate offers to promote.
You know I am amazed the number of people who have started a blog with the idea of making money from it – without fully researching just how they are going to make that money.
Don’t start a blog for fun and profit (as opposed to a fun only blog) unless you have first considered how you will monetize the site.
I cannot possibly know everyone’s Niche but I am going to make a few suggestions that will at the very least get most people started with affiliate marketing.
I like Clickbank a lot because the commissions are decent — 50% in normal and even 75% is possible. Additionally you can create your own product to sell on Clickbank and have the Clickbank army of affiliates promote for you.
Note — the only one I give serious consideration to these days is CLICKBANK but if you are in a Niche where you get a large number of visitors but are finding it difficult to monetize the GOOGLE ADSENSE is well worth considering
Of course it is much better if you have your own unique product to offer or you can find more specific offers for your niche. The more specific the offer the better the conversion, so it is worth while searching out some Special Products to recommend.
Another Note: Only promote products you believe in and would genuinely buy yourself. I regularly turn down affiliate offers just because I don’t like the product being offered.
Day 12: Add An Advertising Spot To Your Blog
Most of the time I like to promote affiliate products because I have a better opportunity of making more money, however sometimes it’s good to have guaranteed money. All ThemeForest themes come complete with an advert manager that makes it easy to add/edit/delete advertisers. I suggest that until you find paying advertisers, you promote affiliate products in these Ad Spots and leave one spot for a banner saying Advertise Here. You can see an example of how I do this at RetireAt21.com (Of course it is better still if you are sold out and don’t need to have an “Advertise Here’ banner displaying.
Advertise Now – RetireAt21.com
2) Make your website interactive – encourage comments, have competitions, polls etc
3) Have and ANGLE and be YOURSELF – add personality to your website by being authentic and genuine and caring. OK, for some of us we may have to ‘exaggerate’
Today we don’t have to be PERFECT in order to be considered an AUTHORITY or a GURU — I actually make a big point of some of my limitations and it appears people like what I say all the more for it.
I present myself as being a:
Dyslexic,Young Entrepreneur, Internet Marketer, Adventurer and Blogger who invites you to start making an additional income online today, full-time or part-time
Day 27: Connecting With Readers
Readers like to feel special! They like to be recognized and remembered. When I visited Gary Vaynerchuk in New York he showed me that when people commented on his blog, he would sometimes personally reply to their comment via email, thanking them for reading and reached out to them. Gary is also very good I have discovered in responding to comments in other blog posts that feature him.
To be honest – I don’t know were he gets the time – but then he hustles more than just about anyone else I know.
You can bet your dollar that if you had that experience with the author of a great blog that you would return often and would make sure to comment again.
We don’t always get the time to respond and I struggle myself from time to time, but responding to blog comments is one of the best ways I have found to connect more directly with my readership.
Day 28: Connecting With Other Bloggers
Not sure why this appears as a Day 28 task – because frankly it is so easy to do.
Many bloggers live a lonely existence working at home – but online I find most of them are very sociable, welcoming email and interaction.
We have already mentioned interviews. That is my favorite way to connect with bloggers I don’t already know in person.
Even just dropping an email to say ‘Hi, I enjoyed your site’ along with a quick comment is a nice way to start the conversation going. But please don’t draft up some ‘standard email’ that you shoot of to everyone – it is so obvious and I get them all the time (and they get deleted) – make your email stand out. Use clever subject lines (‘Hi’ is not a clever subject line). Explain what you liked about their site.
You can later follow up with an interview request if you wish. But first concentrate on building a relationship.
Chances are very high that is you interview someone they will blog about it or they will Re-Tweet about it. Or if you have become friends they will mention you in posts, link to your content (and you vice versa)
If you have a product to sell then they chances are good you can JV together / they can become an affiliate for you (and again vice versa)
a) Sometimes people at the very top of their niche are difficult to connect with directly (harder for them to see what is in it for them) An alternative approach is to just write and say how much you enjoy their work and ask if there is anyway you can assist them? (Explain your talents, how you are just getting started etc)
And if it is practical for you – there is always the option of offering to work for free – just so you can learn and develop your own skills
b) Don’t forget FORUMS – great place to connect with other website owners and bloggers. Forums are also great places for getting ideas for future blog posts etc
Day 29: Perform Blog Testing
Testing is vital to the success I have had. When I first started online I admit I didn’t give it much thought but these days I am always looking for ways to tweak things.
It is such a huge subject and again one I will return to that for now I am just going to give you a couple of resources to check out
If you know where people click then you are better placed to decide where to place your most valuable content / opt-ins
b) Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness.
Testing is vital to the success I have had, before testing I wasn’t making half of what I make today.
Day 30: Edit Your Blog Depending On The Results From Testing
To give you a quick example I noticed recently in Google Analytics that I was appearing on the second page of Google search results for a fairly decent keyword and knowing what I know about SEO and using WordPress SEO I have tweaked my TITLE Tag so that I can further on my search result. (Not yet on page 1 but I am hopeful)
Below is an excellent video which compliments the last two days in particular. Testing can appear boring and it can even be quite frustrating at times – but it is what separates the amateurs from the professionals in my opinion.
Blogging can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. Much of what I have explained over these 30 tasks will appear complicated to some but I should emphasis that thanks to the power of WORDPRESS as long as you are a decent writer and have worthwhile information to share there is an excellent chance you can achieve much success without even implementing 50% of what I have explained here.
That said – clearly somethings are more important than others so I will leave you with some homework – 5 Topics that will make a huge difference to your online success:
Top Lists, Twitter, Search Engine Optimisation (Especially your choice of Title Tag), Installing Google Analytics and Interviews
Congratulations – You Have Made It To The End Of Day 30!
To become and even better Blogger I recommend you check out the recommended reading below:
"Do Not Write Another Blog Post Until You Watch This Free Video..."
Watch this free video to learn...
- How I got over 10,000,000 people to visit my websites.
- The types of blog post that got me all that traffic.
- How to get someone else to do it for you!