How To Start A Blog: Ultimate Blueprint Of a 7-Figure Blog

bloglivin how to start a blog ultimate guide
So you wonder how to start a blog? Then you are in the right place, because I’ll not only show you how to do that, but I’ll also show you the exact steps I’ll take to turn this blog into a 7-figure generating business in less than 12 months.

Yes you read that right, a million dollars in gross revenue!

How will I achieve that?

That’s what you’ll find out in this blog post…

This is the first post on this blog, and basically the complete business plan of Bloglivin.

How To Start A Blog?

If you are thinking about starting a blog yourself, then this is exactly what you should do:

See a blog as a business.

Sure you can become a hobby blogger and do this in you spare time, but I’m sure 99%+ of the people that landed on this page want to create a blog and make an income from it.

How about you?

Don’t get me wrong, becoming a hobby blogger is totally fine and you can definitely learn a lot from this guide, but hobby bloggers aren’t the target audience.

I started this blog because I’m tired of a couple of things.

I’m tired of reading the same old things rehashed over and over again.

Tired of seeing people give random advice without actually showing what they do.

Tired of seeing people blatantly copying what successful bloggers are doing without putting their own spin on things.

If you want advice about how to start a blog, you dont want to read how to do it, you want to see how to do it.

So that’s what this blog is all about.

It’s a case study showing you exactly what I’m doing to create a profitable blog, letting you watch over my shoulder as I move forward and reach my goals.

While I seem pretty tired, Im actually highly motivated to do things differently.

Before we start, let me ask you something though.

When you read the title of this post, did you chuckle a bit?

Did you think that making 7-figures a year from a blog is impossible, or worse, a joke or even a scam?

If yes, think again.

With the right mindset and experience, making a million dollars a year blogging isn’t that complicated. (well it kinda is but I’ll show you that it’s possible)

Why?

Because a lot of people do it!

Obviously, you need to be talented, and unfortunately, most people aren’t talented.

It sounds harsh but it’s the truth.

It takes skill to engage people, and there’s no such thing as a writers college that will turn you into an amazing writer…

But the people that are talented do very well.

Here you can see the income stats of Jon Morrow from Smartblogger.com:

Smart Blogger Income Report

Or how about Pat Flynn from Smartpassiveincome.com:

smartpassiveincome income report

Or what about Steve Chou from Mywifequitherjob.com:

my wife quit her job income report

Or perhaps Abby Lawson from Justagirlandherblog.com who is well on her way:

just a girl and her blog income report

And there are hundreds, if not thousands of other bloggers who make this kind of money from their blog.

If you want to see a list with 250+ bloggers who earn from $0 to $100K+ every month then just check out my blog income reports overview.

And if you have the talent, you can make this type of money too…

…IF (that’s a big if meaning it’s important) you are willing to put in the time and effort to make it work.

It’s not just enough to have the talent, know the blueprint and just give it a shot, you need to implement everything you learn and put in the hours of hard work to become to become a successful blogger.

And even then, you need to put your own twist on things to succeed.

The people mentioned above did just that.

Why am I certain I’ll succeed?

My work ethic is second to none, so even though I’m writing this without having created a single blog post yet, I already know I will succeed.

That’s the mindset you need, without it, let’s just forget it.

How I’ll Get Started

I already knew that the very first post on this blog would be a post about how to start a blog.

The first thing I did was to create a list with things that are needed when you start a blog.

Here’s the finalized version of that initial list of things I’ll do to will turn an empty blog into a 7-figure business in less than a year:

  • Get a domain name
  • Get a hosting account
  • Set up WordPress on my server
  • Get a specific WordPress theme
  • Complete Seo Checklist for new sites
  • Install all other necessary WordPress plugins
  • Determine the Monetization Strategy
  • Come up with product ideas
  • Set up my automated income stream
  • Create a content strategy
  • Create a promotional strategy

This is basically the entire business plan of the blog. I’ll set things up and create a strategy to make money, and then, I’ll put my own twist on things to make more money…

Can you do the same?

Probably.

Will you learn a lot from following my journey?

Hell yeah!

Getting a domain name

Metaphorically speaking, building a blog is like building a house. But to build that house you need land.

So you can’t build a house without owning a piece of land.

For my business, I want a piece of land that allows me to build a strong foundation.

What do I mean with that?

I want to get a domain name that has already a strong foundation in terms of domain age.

So to me, the two most important things when it comes to getting a domain name is:

  1. Getting a domain name that is brandable so people can easily remember it
  2. Getting a domain name that is aged (5+ years old)
  3. Optional: Getting a domain name with high authority

While you can surely find domains that have all 3, if the domain is memorable and aged, that is more than enough in my opinion.

So how did I go about finding Bloglivin?

Let me first explain exactly how I found the domain.

How to find an expired domain?

Expired domains are simply domains that haven’t been renewed and are now available again for purchase.

If you’re on a tight budget, then you can easily find a high quality expired domain and register it for about 10 bucks.

In order to do so, head over to expireddomains.net, create a free account and enter the keyword you want your domain to either contain or start/end with:

expired domains blogging

As you can see I don’t want a domain that contains numbers or hyphens.

When you click the search button you’ll see a lot of expired .com domains appear:

expired domains search results

You’ll find a bunch of metrics ranging from domain age to amount of backlinks pointing to that domain.

Any of these domains can be picked up for $10 in either Namecheap or Godaddy (or any other domain registrar).

As I personally didn’t find any domains that were both brandable and aged, I looked further in the marketplace.

After a couple of hours of research I found Bloglivin.com and it contained a lot of interesting metrics:

expired domains bloglivin

So as you can see:

  • It is super brandable for the type of site I’m creating (a real life blog case study)
  • The domain is older than 5 years, confirmed by com their domain age tool:

domain age tool

  • Bloglovin (one letter difference with Bloglivin) has a total of 135,000 monthly searches which will help with branding because that is a site which is basically a collection of blogs.
  • The price isn’t cheap, but because of the metrics reasonable.

The only metric that isn’t amazing is the domain authority and the amount of backlinks pointing towards the domain.

What is domain authority?

DA is a metric created by Moz.com and this is how they explain it:

Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. We score Domain Authority on a 100-point, logarithmic scale. Thus, it’s easier to grow your score from 20 to 30 than it would be to grow from 70 to 80.

So at the moment of purchasing Bloglivin.com the domain authority was pretty low.

Here you can see the info I found in Moz’s open site explorer:

bloglivin domain authority

However, because of the way we’ll set up the promo campaigns, the domain age is way more important in my opinion and the DA will shoot up pretty fast once we get started with that.

Better yet: This is much better than a domain with a higher DA but which has a lot of links from spammy sources pointing to it…

So what’s the conclusion?

  • Make sure that finding a brandable domain is your main priority
  • Don’t forget to get a brandable domain that is 5+ years old
  • If it has a nice backlink profile and high DA that’s nice but not crucial imo

Getting a hosting account

Now that I have the foundation of the business in order, it’s time to get the hosting space we need so we can start building our house.

The definition of web hosting is clear:

the activity or business of providing storage space and access for websites.

If you’re just starting out, then a small shared hosting package is all you need. This would cost about $10 per month and you’ll get your site online.

However, since I’m planning on building a business that will drive a lot of traffic to my site, I would quickly outgrow a regular shared hosting package.

So what do I get instead?

A dedicated server.

The difference is simply that instead of sharing the hosting with multiple other site owners on the same server, I’ll have my very own server.

Do you need that as a beginning blogger?

Probably not.

In fact, one of the offers I sell on this blog offers an all-in-one solution for beginning bloggers which is much cheaper than a dedicated server. (more about that later)

But, as this case study revolves around me setting up Bloglivin and turning it into a 7-figure business in less than 12 months, let’s check out what I’m using.

wiredtree hosting

Wiredtree is a managed service offering dedicated servers with a 100% uptime guarantee.

Plus, they offer pretty good and fast support too.

wiredtree reviews

The truth is that hosting is a very complicated matter and there is no company out there that doesn’t have bad reviews.

The fact that the server is managed and the support is good are the most important things for me.

Downside: It’s not cheap…

wiredtree price

But then again, who would expect to run a million dollar business on a $10 hosting account, right? 🙂

Pointing Nameservers To The Server

The first thing to do when you have your domain name and hosting ready is to set up your name servers in your domain registrar account. (Namecheap or Godaddy for instance)

So what’s a nameserver exactly?

To quote the FAQ section on Namecheap.com:

A nameserver is a server on the internet specialized in handling queries regarding the location of a domain name’s various services. Nameservers are a fundamental part of the Domain Name System (DNS). They allow using domains instead of IP addresses.

So in other words, nameservers allows me to use Bloglivin.com instead of something like 191.459.215.256.

In Godaddy (since that’s where I registered this domain) you can edit nameservers here:

godaddy nameservers

And then simply set the nameservers as mentioned in your hosting account:

bloglivin nameservers

As i’m using Wiredtree these are the nameservers I need to use, if you have another hosting provider these will look different.

Set Up WP on my server

WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) and is simply an amazing piece of software.

Why?

Because it allows you to quickly and easily create a blog and optimize it any way you want without touching a line of code.

So obviously, this is the choice for my blog and after getting my domain name

I run my site on a dedicated server and there is no option to automatically install WordPress so I’ll simply install WordPress manually doing the following steps.

Download WordPress

WordPress is 100% free software and can be downloaded from WordPress.org here:

download WordPress

Get A WP Theme

WordPress is cool, that’s for sure.

The fact that you can upload the free software and then build any type of site from scratch without any knowledge about design, coding etc. is what makes it cool.

Even though there are 1000’s of free themes available in the WordPress theme catalog, I personally opt to get a premium theme.

Is this necessary?

Probably not, because your theme isn’t the main thing that will make you successful, it just helps a bit.

So what do I look for when it comes to choosing a WordPress theme?

  • It must be Seo optimized so I don’t have to edit some of the code like the title tags.
  • It needs to be optimized for speed to enhance user-friendliness, because nobody likes to visit slow loading sites.
  • It needs to be responsive for mobile devices, even though I doubt there are premium themes that aren’t yet, but if you choose a free theme make sure it is.
  • It needs to be easy to customize, just the basics using a “theme options” section is enough for me.

Whatever you do, just make sure these 4 things are taken care and that it. Don’t spend too much time thinking about what theme to use, you better spend it on more important things.

So what theme did I choose?

Schema from Mythemeshop.com:

schema theme mythemesshop

As you can see it fits all criteria and has 265 5-star reviews. You can’t go wrong with that.

And as you can see after uploading it there’s an easy to use theme options section where I can instantly customize every aspect of my blog:

Schema theme options mythemesshop

I love this theme. 🙂

Seo Checklist For New Sites

For new sites it’s needed to take care of a couple of things to ensure the website will rank better in the search engines.

But not just that, it’s also beneficial to track your stats and optimize the site later on.

This basic Seo checklist covers the most important items and is in no way referring to on-page Seo which simply means optimizing your site’s pages for the search engines, which is a big topic in itself.

So when you start a blog, make sure to do all of the following things.

Adding Google Analytics To Your Site

Google analytics is a free and very powerful tracking tool which will provide you with a lot of info about your site.

Here’s a step by step overview of how to do that.

(Please note that my account is displayed in Dutch and yours will probably be in your language. The links and elements are located in the exact same position though so you can easily navigate by checking the screenshots.)

Step 1: Get A Google Analytics Account

First of all head over to the Google analytics website and if you haven’t got an account yet, create one here:

google analytics homepage

If you already have a Google analytics account you can simply login, no need to create a new one.

Step 2: Add Your Website To Google Analytics

After logging in to your analytics account, head over to the admin tab here:

gogole analytics admin tab

And then click the “Create New Account” link so you’ll be redirected to this page:

Here you should add all the details about your website like naming your account (for your reference) and adding your website url.

When that’s done click the “Get Tracking ID” button at the bottom of this page here:

google analytics get tracking ID

After that you’ll need to agree with the Google analytics agreement, so make sure to click the “I agree” button here:

google analytics agreement

Then you’ll be able to retrieve your tracking code which will allow you to get all the data about you website.

Here you can find that:

google analytics tracking code

So make sure to copy and paste the entire code.

Step 3: Add The Google Analytics Code To Your Site

So now it’s time to simply add the tracking code to your site.

The cool thing about the Schema theme I got is that I can use the “Theme Options” section to add the tracking code directly to all pages of my blog.

So adding your analytics code here is a breeze and there’s no need to install a plugin for this.

So I just head over to my WordPress dashboard and go into the theme options again and when I scroll down I see an option to add a header or footer code. So I can just go ahead and copy and paste the code into the footer section here:

footer code theme options

That’s it!

To be sure things are working fine, let’s go back to Google analytics and check the reporting tab:

analytics reporting

And if I now visit my website’s homepage, I will see one visitor appear (me):

google analytics real time

So if that’s the case Google analytics is integrated into your site so you’re all set!

Adding Your Site In The Google Search Console

Another must-do is adding your site to the Google Search Console, a tool where you can see metrics related to your site’s search results.

So to do this, I first of all head over to the Google Search console website and click “Add A Property” here:

google search console add property

Then simply add your website url in the box here:

add your website in google search console

When that’s done I’ll be able to verify my website on the next page as you can see here:

verify website in google search console

Now in order for the verification to work, you need to follow the steps mentioned on this page.

The recommended method is by uploading an html file to your server, and I agree that this is the easiest method to verify your website in the Google search console.

To do this, I access my hosting’s cpanel and click the file manager icon here:

file manager in cpanel

Then I simply upload the google search console html file from my computer in the public_html folder here:

upload google search console html file

Now I can go ahead and verify my site in the Google search console:

verify button google search console

So that’s it!

When my site is verified I can move on to the next important step.

Submitting your sitemap to Google

In order to ensure your content gets indexed fast, it’s crucial that you submit your sitemap to Google.

I can now go ahead and do this inside the Google Search console in the property page that I’ve just created as you can see here:

Now in order to submit a sitemap, we can install a simple plugin using our WordPress dashboard called “Google XML sitemaps” which you can find in the plugins catalog inside your WordPress dashboard:

All you need to do is add sitemap.xml to your site’s url in the box that appears after clicking the “Add/Test sitemap” button. So in my case that is Bloglivin.com/sitemap.xml:

After hitting the submit button and refreshing he page you see that the sitemap is submitted successfully:

It will remain pending for up to 48 hours but that’s all there is to it, my sitemap has been submitted and my posts are ready to be indexed quickly in the Google search engine.

Connect your Google analytics with your Google Search console

To ensure you get all the data needed to keep your website optimized (and this will be crucial in the long run), it’s a good idea to already connect your analytics account with your search console.

I order to do that I’ll head over to the setting dropdown in my search console and click the “Google analytics property” link:

And then simply choose the property you created before in your analytics account and when you click the save button you should now see that your analytics is connected to your search console:

Submitting Your Site To Bing Webmaster Tools

A similar product as the Google search console is Bing webmaster tools.

Even though Google is the biggest search engine and most of your search engine traffic will come from Google, Bing still has a fairly large market share.

Bigger than you would expect actually because in the US, 10% of all searches is done in Bing.

So the procedure of adding your site to Bing is pretty similar to how it works on Google.

First of all head over to the Bing webmaster tools homepage and either log in with your existing account or create a new Bing account.

After that’s done here you see how the dashboard looks and where I’ll add my site’s url:

bing webmaster tools add site

So then I’ll click the “Add Site” button and doing this redirects me to a page where I can instantly submit my sitemap. So I’ll go ahead and again add the “sitemap_index.xml” extension to my site’s url (more about that later) and then click the “Add” button:

bing webmaster tools sitemap

So after doing this I’m asked to verify my website again, and similar as in the Google search console I’ll need to download the file and upload it to my server using the same procedure as I did before:

bing webmaster add sitemap

Once I have uploaded the file and it works fine my site will be verified and crawled better by the Bing Search engine spiders.

Add A Robots.txt File To Your Site

A robots.txt file is a file that tells search engine spiders and other bots what to do and what not do to on your site.

So this is a pretty important file as it allows you to:

  • Tell search engine spiders to ignore wp-admin folder
  • Tell search engine spiders to ignore the wp-includes folder
  • Tell search engine spiders to ignore tag pages

All of these things are either useful or necessary to rank higher in the search engines.

Tag pages for instance would index duplicate content and unnecessary pages, which would drag your site down in the search results.

Please Note: This is only needed if you don’t use WordPress because every WP installation has a robots file installed by default. I just want to mention the importance of this so you know it exists and can be updated. 🙂

How To Create A Robots.txt File?

So in order to tell the search engine spiders the things to do which will benefit your business the most, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Open an empty notepad file
  • Step 2: Copy and paste this in the file:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin/

Allow: /wp-admin/wp-ajax.php

  • Step 3: Save the file as “txt”
  • Step 4: Upload the file to the root folder of your WordPress blog (using the file manager in your cpanel)
  • Step 5: Check if the file appears when you add /robots.txt to your domain name

As I have WordPress, here you can see my robots file:

robots file bloglivin

Great, I have an optimized robotx.txt file. 🙂

Installing Plugins To Optimize Your Blog For Seo

Apart from the general things to do related to Seo, there are several plugins you should install to optimize your blog.

In this section I’ll go over all the plugins that I have installed in order to optimize Bloglivin for the search engines and boost my organic traffic while creating stellar content.

1. Seo by Yoast WordPress Plugin

yoast seo

The WordPress Seo plugin by the Yoast team is probably the most comprehensive Seo plugin available.

The most important features include:

  • On-page Seo Optimization
  • Meta Description Adding
  • Optimize For Specific Keyword
  • Add Breadcrumbs
  • XML Sitemap Generator

If you want to optimize your pages and search results then you can easily do this in an editor below your post:

Wordpress seo yoast snippet

All of this would be pretty complicated stuff without the Yoast Seo plugin, so it’s basically a must-have plugin if you care about your organic traffic results.

2. WP Super Cache

wp super cache

A caching plugin basically loads static html files from your blog, which load faster than php files, the language WordPress was created in.

WP Super cache is arguably the best plugin to make this happen.

The settings are basically added by default so you just need to turn the plugin on for it to work:

wp super cache turn on cache

After doing this you will defintiely see an improvement of your website speed, enhancing the user-friendliness of your site and allowing it to rank higher in the search engines.

3. Social Warfare WordPress Plugin

social warfare plugin

In order to create those slick sharing buttons on my blog and Twitter quote boxes (as seen in the blog income reports post), I use a sharing plugin called Social Warfare.

They have a limited free version, but I can definitely recommend the upgrade because it gives you a lot more options and allow you to add share buttons in just about any way you want, including adding custom sharing options as you can see here:

social warfare custom sharing buttons

But there’s more.

You might know that Twitter has stopped sharing details about their social signals, which basically means you can’t see how many times a posts has been tweeted.

Social Warfare has found a workaround for this.

social warfare tweet counts

You simply need to add your site’s url in an external service created by Artur Brugeman called “newsharecounts”. All that is required is to post your url, add your email address and the Social warefare plugin will start counting shares again.

Pretty sweet right? 🙂

4. Smushit WordPress Plugin

smushit wordpress plugin

If you use a lot of images on your site (which you should in my opinion), then you’re going to face heavy bandwith and a slower loading site if your traffic increases.

In order to solve this problem you can use a plugin called Smushit, which basically compresses your image.

What does this mean?

It simply means that this plugin makes the size of the images smaller making your pages load faster.

The cool thing about this plugin is that it works completely automatically as you upload new images!

You can also smush up to 50 images at once as a free user with the click of a button:

wp smushit smushing

Honestly, if you’re just getting started the free version will do it’s job just fine, making this an amazing plugin.

5. Lazy Load WordPress Plugin

a3 lazy load wordpress plugin

Even though the Smushit plugin will compress your images, if you have a lot of them the size can still add up.

To solve this problem I use a “lazy load” plugin called “A3 Lazy Load Plugin.”

This plugin will ensure only load the images that are visible to the website visitor, reducing the total size of the page that needs to load making your site faster.

This is again a very easy plugin to use because the default settings are basically enough to optimze your pages.

A3 lazy load wordpress plugin settings

The plugin doesn’t just lazy loads images but also videos and widgets, plus it’s mobile friendly too.

6. Pretty Link WordPress Plugin

pretty link lite wordpress plugin

If you have a blog, then you probably recommend some products to your readers.

If you checked my blog income reports post, then you surely know that the majority of bloggers makes most of their income from affiliate marketing.

The problem is that Google and other search engines don’t like affiliate links and penalize your site for it.

The solution is to make your links look “pretty” using the Pretty Link Lite WordPress Plugin.

This plugin allows you to instantly add pretty link to your posts from within the post editor.

add pretty link

You can also nofollow the links and track amount of clicks on your links easily.

Essential plugin for Affiliate Marketers.

7. WP-Optimize

wp optimize plugin

WordPress has a lot of features and stores a lot of data.

This will make your site run slower and slower in the long run.

An easy solution is to install the “WP Optimize Plugin“, which allows you to optimize several things with the click of a button, such as:

  • Removing unnecessary data
  • Optimizing MySQL database tables
  • Removing spam post (and rest assured you will get a lot of those)
  • Removing post revisions
  • Many More…

wp optimize run optimization

All of this can be done with the click of a button with the WP Optimize Plugin.

12. Privacy Policy And Terms WordPress Plugin

auto terms and privacy policy wordpress plugin

Finally, in order to stay compliant with the laws of your country, you need to add a privacy policy and terms of serice page to your blog.

But who has time (first of all) and the knowledge to create these pages from scratch?

Not me.

The “Auto terms of service and privacy policy WordPress plugin” makes it very easy to add those pages to your site.

All you need to do is:

  • Add the name of your business in the designated field:

C:\Users\jenssteyaert\Documents\bloggingandbeyond\auto_terms_of_service_and_privacy_policy_wordpress_plugin_add_name.png

  • Add the shortcodes to new pages:

privacy policy page

After publishing the page the completed privacy policy text will appear on the page and your site will be compliant.

Determine The Blog Monetization Strategy

How will I make money from the blog?

This is the million dollar question.

After all, the deadline to create a 7-figure business is just 12-months away so without a good monetization strategy for the blog this will never happen.

The good thing about this is the fact that there is a proven system, used by most top bloggers.

  • Is it selling ads? Of course not…
  • Is it affiliate marketing? Not really…
  • Is it selling an e-book? Nope not at all…

Then what is it?!

Alright here it goes, the proven formula to build super profitable blog:

  1. Set up your blog correctly (as shown in this post)
  2. Write content that people want to share (to drive traffic)
  3. Optimize your blog for email conversions (will show you later)
  4. Build a relationship with your email list (give them tons of value)
  5. Sell products to your email list (yes you need to sell to make money!)

That’s it.

Not too complicated now is it?

If only It was that easy…

Every step in the process requires persistence, knowledge and a lot of work. Tons of work if you will.

Think in terms of 80+ hours per week, even if you outsource and automate several things.

But I’m sure by now you already realize that I’m not messing about. J

I want to point out a couple of things I’ll do when it comes to my particular blog monetization strategy.

I will start selling products on my blog from day 1

I heard this a million times over from pseudo-specialists who claim that it’s simply wrong to start selling products from day 1.

How are you supposed to run a business that makes money if you don’t sell products?

Right, you won’t.

So before I even start promoting my blog, a completely automated sales funnel will be created that offers subscribers value and some offers they can’t refuse. J

I’ll never stop offering quality content to my list

Some marketers are a bit cruel (and clearly not that bright…)

Have you ever signed up on an email list that provides zero value, and if you don’t buy an offer that gets slammed into your face you’re suddenly added to a list that the marketer doesn’t give a crap about?

Receiving one promo after another linking to crappy offers isn’t exactly a great business planning.

The truth is, even if somebody doesn’t buy from you in your initial sales funnel, this doesn’t mean that they can’t see value in your offers later on.

So instead of just forcing people to buy by sending one offer after another, I’ll simply keep on sending updates whenever I post more high quality content on my blog.

Genuinely helping people out is always a good idea.

The products I’ll sell will offer more value than what they cost

This is a no-brainer but it’s worth mentioning anyways.

Obviously it’s easy to overdeliver when you are selling a $10 e-book, but you’ll never make $100K per month or more selling those.

Sure it can help you pay for your hosting and all the other tools you use, but that’s not the goal.

A blog is a business, remember?

So the key to making that kind of money is to sell high-ticket products and/or products that pay you a recurring commission.

Trust me on this one, all of the high-end bloggers you saw in the intro make their big money this way.

So what’s the key to selling those types of products?

Overdeliver on those too just like you would with a $10 e-book.

Simple?

Yes.

I told you it was a no-brainer right. 🙂

The theory is pretty simple:

It takes as much effort to sell a $997 product as it does to sell a $10 product.

So in that sense, selling a $10 makes very little sense at all.

I’ll automate the selling

Content creation and promotion will be the main things taken my time, so automating the selling is an amazing way to save time.

Better yet, it allows me to make sales 24/7.

Technology is amazing isn’t it?

Using software that allows you to sell on full autopilot using a pre-created funnel is the ultimate leverage when it comes to making money online, and it allows me to focus on what really matters:

Offering value for visitors, subscribers and customers.

And that’s how it should be in any business.

In order to automate the selling, I’m using a very simple but effective tool called Mail It WordPress plugin.

So after uploading this plugin, here’s how the dashboard looks like:

mail it dashboard

Are there autoresponders with more bells and whistles?

Sure there are.

But Mail It Gets the job done.

Update: I Also Use Aweber as seen in the blog tools page.

How To Come Up With Product Ideas

What will I sell?

After all, selling products will be the main income stream of the blog, so I’ll need to sell something to reach my goal, right?

There are 2 choices when it comes to selling products on a blog:

  1. Sell your own products
  2. Sell other people’s products and earn a commission

For most beginning bloggers, promoting other people’s products as an affiliate will be the best choice.

You don’t need to actually create a product, a sales page, handle customer support, deal with payments etc.

So if you’re just starting out, that’s what I recommend for the simple reason that it’s not easy to create your own product as a newbie in the first place.

On Bloglivin, even though I’ll promote the tools I use as an affiliate, the majority of revenue will come from my own products.

Sure, I’ll pop in an affiliate link here and there (and let you know about it J ) but that won’t be the main income source.

So how To come up with product ideas for a blog?

Here’s the step by step process.

Determine your target audience

What are you writing about?

What problems are you solving for the people that read your content?

If you know these things, you already know who might be interested in related products.

Building a loyal readership is one thing, but if you have a blog about fitness exercises it makes very little sense to sell pet supplies.

Obviously you would rather sell fitness equipment or supplements.

After all that’s what you’re writing about and why people visit your blog in the first place.

So who is the target audience of Bloglivin?

  1. People who want to start writing a blog and have time to do so
  2. People who want to start writing a blog, but don’t have time to do so
  3. Existing publishers who are interested in case studies

These 3 groups of people are the target audience of this blog and probably consist out about more than 90% of the readership.

Find a way to add value for your readers

Alright now that I know the target audience, what can I offer them?

And more importantly, what can I offer them that would add value to their own business?

There’s 1 problem with my blog:

I already offer tons of value for free!

There’s no way that I can start selling a training course that teaches people how to start a blog as that doesn’t make any sense.

So what can I offer?

Additional services.

If you think about starting a blog, my advice to you is simply this:

Don’t offer training!

If you can’t provide the training for free, then chances are high that the content you produce on your blog is of mediocre quality at best.

You can’t build a loyal readership with mediocre content…

In my case, the focus will solely be on super high quality content that genuinely helps people out.

So I determined that there are 2 things I can do:

  • Review the products that I use for existing bloggers
  • Offer a Done-For-You service for people who don’t have time or talent (or both) to create their own blog

So these are the 2 things I’ll be focusing on.

Determine the pricing of the product

I now have the target audience and know that I’ll be selling a done for you service.

This may sounds strange, but before I actually figure out what I’ll be selling I’ll determine the price of the product I’ll be selling.

Why?

It’s all about offering more value than the price you’re selling it at remember?

In other words: If somebody pays you $1000 and he can get $10,000 back from the service you provide, you’re offering an amazing deal.

As my goal is build a 7-figure business in less than 12 months, I need to sell at least 1 million dollar worth of products.

So logically speaking, I have these options:

Option 1: Sell 10,000 products for $100

While selling a $100 product is easy to create and over-deliver on, selling 10,000 items is a lot.

This is also a price-range that Tim Ferriss refers to as the “blood-bath zone”, meaning about 30% of all customers will be high-maintenance.

This is not very effective when running a case study with a deadline.

Option 2: Sell 100 products at $10,000

Another option that would allow me to reach my goal is to sell products in the very high-end range.

The benefit here is that I would only have to sell 100 products, or about one product every 3 days.

The big problem here is that it’s very hard to over-deliver on this. After all, if somebody pays $10,000 I would need to be able to convince people they would get about $100,000 back from the service I’m offering.

Is it possible?

Sure it is, but still not the best solution in my opinion.

Option 3: Sell 1000 products at $1,000

This is the winning combination.

While selling 1000 products is a lot, I have 12 months to do it.

Here’s a little overview with some numbers that will put thing into more perspective:

  • Blog receives 10,000 visitors per day
  • 3% sign up for my email list = 300 subscribers daily
  • The funnel converts at 1%
  • I make 3 sales per day which is 1095 sales in 1 year
  • Result: $1,095,000 in total revenue

The fact remains that the affiliate commissions will bring in a good amount of revenue too.

Pat Flynn and Jon Morrow for instance makes a good amount from promoting Leadpages alone:

smartblogger affiliate commission

Conclusion:

A $1000 product it is.

How to add value to your products

What is lacking in the life of your target audience?

Logically speaking, people that have time to start a blog and existing publishers can be best helped with the free training on the blog.

To them I can recommend the tools I use myself and earn an affiliate commissions if they choose to purchase the product themselves.

So that leaves the 99%+ of people who are interested in blogging but simply don’t have the time to turn it into a real business.

You know, the people that work a 9 to 5 and want out but can’t seem to find a way.

You know who I’m talking about, maybe you are even one of them? (or were)

This group of people:

  • Is interested in making money
  • Doesn’t have time to put in the efforts
  • Is willing to spend money to make money

So how can I attract this group of people?

By offering a done for you service that makes them more money than what they spend.

an offer you can not refuse

The skill is in conveying the message correctly and offer something 100% unique.

I’m positive I achieved that with my product and funnel.

Set Up An Automated Income Stream

Marketing automation, the eighth wonder of the world. (in the world of a marketer)

Honestly, without an autoresponder account it would be very hard to reach my goal.

In fact, it would be impossible.

So how do I go about it?

Here’s a step by step overview of how I’ll set things up on my own blog.

Upload the Mail It plugin

There are tons of autoresponder services around like Aweber, Getresponse, Mailchimp etc. but the truth is that none of them are needed to run my business.

All I use is a nifty little plugin called Mail It. (of which I have a developer license, you can get it for less than 50 bucks here)

Mail It is what they call a self-hosted autoresponder so I’ll be sending mails from my own server.

Why is this great?

Because I don’t need to share the mailing servers with other marketers and depend on their email marketing tactics to ensure I have a high inbox delivery rate.

That’s a little-known secret but if there’s a spammer sending out junk mails the moment you are sending out a high quality broadcast to your list, your delivery rate will suffer.

Want to hear more about the creator of the plugin?

Then watch this video to learn more:

So the first thing I did was upload the Mail It plugin inside my WordPress dashboard here:

mail it plugin upload

Create Email Lists

After activating the plugin I can instantly start to create email lists inside the Mail It dashboard inside my WordPress installation:

mail it create new lists

And here’s the thing, I will create multiple email lists to increase blog conversions and make more sales.

On the blog you’ll notice several opt-in forms and points where people can sign up to the email list.

By doing this I can pre-qualify the email subscriber and send them the info that will benefit them the most based on where they sign up.

If you want to read an in-depth study about how I’ll optimize my blog for email conversion, make sure to read the “boost blog conversions” guide I created, but for now here are some basic examples to give you a better idea.

Ask a question to potential email subscribers

What’s the most effective way to determine what info to send to people?

Just ask them!

This sounds very simple and honestly, it is, but it works.

By having people fill in a little form or making them vote or anything similar, you simply ask people what email list they want to sign up to.

This will allow you determine how you can help them to most.

Create extra tools

Free plugins, free checklists, free pdf’s, free this or that.

Anything that adds value to the blog post can be used as a lead magnet.

And in return, I can craft an email sequence that will not only provides the most value possible for the subscriber depending on where they signed up, but also make more sales in the process.

Standard opt-in boxes

Obviously there need to be an email opt-in box visible most of the time, giving people the chance to sign up wherever they are on the site.

Some places can be the homepage, the sidebars, the footer etc.

Usually these boxes don’t convert as well as more specific content-related opt-in boxes, but not adding them is obviously worse.

Create An Email Follow Up

When the lists are created, it’s time to craft some emails that will make sales on autopilot whenever people sign up to my email list.

I’m sure that you already signed up to several email lists before, so it’s no secret that email marketing revolves around selling products.

However, this isn’t exactly the way I look at it.

When writing an email, one thing is always on my mind: How can I provide value to my subscribers?

I’m sure you heard this all before, so I won’t bore you with stating the obvious kind of preaching, and instead give you some examples to show you what I mean.

Ask a question in the first email

You want to help people?

Ask them what they need help with!

So asking a question if you can personally help them with something is the best way to achieve that.

Something like:

“Thanks for signing up to my list! Is there anything I can help you with today? I so just hit the reply button and let me know!”

This is basic but extremely effective.

Ask Specific Question

Because I’ll have multiple entry points, I have a clear understanding about why people sign up to my list.

This gives me an even better option.

Let’s say people signed up to the list of aspiring bloggers who are motivated to start blogging.

What I’ll do is ask them if they want to see me do a case study on a specific topic.

This not only adds a personal touch, but actually gives them a voice as to what Ill be blogging about.

Pretty powerful.

Send them related content

If people sign up to a blog to learn more about the benefits of morning walks, you can send them info about what type of shoes to wear too.

The cool thing is that the web is full of interesting related content.

This doesn’t even have to be your own content!

Want to be different?

Help your subscribers by helping other bloggers too.

Send Email Broadcasts

While you’re building an email list, a follow up series with emails you previously created will automatically be sent to your subscribers.

But what about content updates?

It would be ridiculous not to let your subscribers know about new amazing content you added to your site right?

In the Mail It plugin I can easily create messages to update my subscribers about new stuff:

mail it send new message

Because the quality of content on my blog is so high, the open and click through rate will be massive; allowing me to bond with more and more people over time.

Creating A Content Strategy

The cornerstone of any blog is high quality content. Without it you’re just another mediocre blogger nobody cares about.

So to avoid that, I’ll need to do things differently.

Don’t get me wrong though, this doesn’t mean that we should completely walk away from the things that work for other people.

That would be a bit silly…

Reinventing the wheel isn’t on my agenda.

So even though the basic structure of my own strategy will be similar to that of how the big dogs roll, there are some things I personally feel can be done much better.

so before even writing a single word, I made a list of things I’ll use for my content strategy to grow my blog.

Case-study galore

People love case studies!

Anything that provides real data is not just something people read and forget about, it actually makes them come back to see exactly what results something yields.

That’s why my entire focus of the blog will be to create numerous little case studies that ultimately lead to the end result.

It’s a 100% unique experiment, one everybody can follow with a front-row seat. J

Go Into Full Detail

Actionable content is what works.

It’s what helps you to engage an audience and it’s what all the top bloggers are doing.

I won’t just do that, I’ll take it to a completely new level by providing more screenshots, more info and more details about everything I’m doing.

In other words: Every post will be an over the shoulder look to see every little step I’m taking to bring me the results provided of the case studies I’m doing.

Use Amazing Headers And Infographics

Visually appealing content is becoming more and more important.

So going the extra mile to create absolutely stunning images is what will make my blog stand out from all the rest.

On top of that, I’ll make my content (which will be amazing all the time obviously) much easier to share.

This will result in more traffic and faster growth.

So the goal will be to create a new header image and a new infographic for every new blog post I publish.

Create A Custom Table Of Contents WordPress Plugin

Have you ever seen blog posts with a table of contents?

It’s pretty cool right?

Not so much in my opinion…

First of all, most of them don’t look that good, the Wikipedia type of style.

Here’s an example on Bloggerspassion.com:

table of contents example

And then when you scroll down, you just see an empty sidebar:

table of contents empty sidebar

I found an example of a better looking table of contents on the Getvero.com blog, here you can see that:

table of contents better design

But then again, it doesn’t solve the issue of the empty sidebar making it impossible to easily navigate to another section of the post when you’re halfway.

So my idea is simple:

  • Create a WordPress Plugin that creates stunning table of contents
  • Make it scroll down alongside the content when people move up or down the page

See my goal is to create very long posts and make every section a blog post in and out of itself basically.

Some people might come to the page to learn about 2 topics I’m writing about, so making it easy for them to navigate to those topics will make every blog post a lot more user-friendly and make people stay on the site longer.

Please Note: This plugin is still in development, I’ll create a post about it when it’s ready.

Create A Promotional Strategy

The final part of the entire strategy about how to build a blog is coming up with a strategy to promote it.

Even though I spend all this time creating amazing content, without promotion nobody will be able to see it.

It’s a general rule that you should spend just as much time on promoting your content than the amount of time it takes to create it.

But I’ll do more.

I’ll actually spend double as much time on promo!

To make it makes very little sense to spend 8 hours writing a blog post and then just promote it for 8 hours.

Why?

For the simple reason that the traffic is what will generate revenue.

The more people I’m able to help, the more the blog will earn. So it’s only logical that when you I some amazing content published, I’ll spend hours on end promoting it.

Let’s take a look how I’ll do that.

Reaching Out To Influencers

Yeah I’m sure you heard this one before.

Reaching out to influencers and asking if they want to link to or share your content is what everybody else is doing right?

Yes it is.

And most of the people fail miserably.

The things you read about people being successful with this strategy is not the norm, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

tip of the iceberg

I’m pretty sure that most people think that reaching out to influencers and getting in front of their audience works like this:

  • You find the content in your niche that gets a lot of shares
  • You compile a list of people that shared that content
  • You send over a templated email asking to share your content too

This will work in less than 1% of the cases.

It’s even very likely you’ll never get a response at all.

Why?

Because you’re not innovative.

You don’t put your own spin on things and don’t realize that everybody is already doing this making the same mistake.

The influencers in your niche are just tired of this already, so you might as well do nothing and stop wasting your time.

So how will I be innovative?

One thing:

Focus on whats In it for them.

What do I have to offer that will make influencers notice me instead of the dozens of other people that are reaching out to them on a daily basis?

You don’t build relationships by straight up asking for links or shares.

Instead, my focus will be on these things:

Reach out to people that are mentioned in my post

Every now and then I’ll mention some famous or nearly-famous bloggers in my content.

I’ll make it a habit to simply reach out them and tell them they are featured on my blog without asking anything in return.

Just a simple:

Hi XXX, Ive been a follower of your work for a long time, and because I have learned so much from your blog already, I decided to feature you in my latest blog post about XXX.

I dont ask anything in return obviously, just want to let you know so you can check it out, heres the link: -> XXX

Cheers,

Jens

PS: I also included your brand in the infographic I created for this post, I hope you think its cool.

So with this approach, some of the top influencers might as well check it out, after all, they will not just be featured on my blog but also in an amazing infographic.

And Infographics are very easy to share. 🙂

Do I expect all top influencers to go crazy about my blog post and link to it or share my infographic like crazy?

Of course not.

But the next time I do, they’ll remember it and they might as well then.

Reach out to nearly-famous bloggers

When compiling a list of outreach prospects, there will be a lot of bloggers on it who are already have quite a large audience and who are quite successful doing the outreach thing themselves.

The key for this group of people will be to make the outreach email personal.

Here’s how I’ll approach this:

  • Contact nearly-famous bloggers who wrote about the same topic as my own blog post
  • Mention an opinion they had in their blog post that contradicts with an opinion I have (or something along those lines)
  • Ask them about their opinion on the matter

This is a very personal email and with the correct approach, it’s very likely they reply.

After all, I will put in the effort to read their content and analyze it, so not replying is pretty much rude. (unless they have better things to do of course, which is something I totally understand)

Important: I won’t be adding a link to my blog post in the very first email, instead I’ll just ask a question.

Reaching out to aspiring nearly-famous bloggers

This is the group of people that are also starting out and are doing the exact same thing as I’ll be doing.

They will be happy somebody is actually reaching out to them, so the key will be to anticipate on that and make them more happy than they already are.

How will achieve this?

Using the same technique as with the famous bloggers basically.

  • I will do the research needed to maximize results
  • I will ask them about their opinion about something I researched to make the outreach email personal
  • I won’t add a link to the first email, just ask them if they want to check it out

It’s all about relationship building using this promo method, and in due time, the outreach emails will be filling my inbox too.

Obviously, I’ll reply to the people that use the same method as I do. 🙂

Conclusion about how to start a blog

Wow, nearly 10,000 words in 1 blog post.

Pretty astonishing isn’t it?

But let me ask you, how can you write about how to start a blog without going into full detail about everything that’s needed to get started?

That doesn’t make much sense to me, and I’m sure that by reading this post, you already know what my blog will be about.

  • High quality content
  • Actionable content
  • Case studies

I really want to show every blogger out there that there’s probably a reason that they don’t succeed.

There’s a reason that they don’t get 10,000 visitors a day on their blog or make 6-figures monthly.

By giving the whole world a complete overview of how I build a blog from scratch and how it evolves into a million dollar business, there will be no more questions.

I will document every little thing I do, so you can follow along.

This is the first post on my blog, so you know exactly what I use and how I use it.

And if you liked it, just share the image below on social media, I think it’s pretty good overview of the detailed guide about how to start a blog. 🙂

how to start a blog infographic bloglivin

20 Comments

  1. Ramkumar February 28, 2017
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