7 steps to start a successful blog from scratch in 2019

how to start a successful blog 2019

*This post contains affiliate links. I only promote products I use myself and/or love.*

Is blogging still necessary?

Does anyone still read blogs?

Surely you must be kidding. Nobody is reading blogs.

These are the lyrics to the song I’ve heard over and over again since I started blogging.

And yet, my blog has helped me earn amazing money since 2015.

Let me cut to the chase and be real with you.

  1. Yes, blogging is still relevant in 2019.
  2. No. It is not like the late nineties when the internet was still the Wild Wild West and anything you threw up on here was impressive.
  3. If you want to have a blog that people READ and which also earns you MONEY, you will have to be strategic about your blog and set it up so that you are not pumping out content for nothing.
  4. No. It is not too late for you to start. If your favorite company told themselves it was too late to start when they did, you would never know about them, would you?

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about how you can start a successful blog in 2019.

How to start a successful blog in 2019

#1-Determine and be clear on what your niche will be

I don’t want to sound like a broken record…unless that is your thing.

However, if you want to start finding your people, the people who will ravenously read your blog, the people you will become your fans and seek you out when you go to public events, you will want to pick a topic or niche to blog about.

Every time I bring this up, people start to freak out.

But, Gee, I want to blog about everything!

Gah! My favorite blogger blogs about many things. I want to be like them.

I love so many things and I want to talk about all of them.

Listen, I am right there with you about being multi-passionate.

However, there is a reason to focus.

The reason your favorite blogger can blog about anything they want to blog about is because they have already built their audience and proven that they are someone worth following.

If you haven’t built that authority just yet, it is wise to choose a focus, build that up and branch out later on if you want to.

But, what if the niche I want to occupy is saturated?

I heard Sean Cannell give a powerful suggestion for this on YouTube once.

Here it is: take two niches you’re interested in and mash them up.

For instance you want to blog about food but you’re also a political history buff.

Could you create a blog where you share recipes BUT also tell some politically important story about the dish?

It might take a little more effort to do this kind of niche mash-up but the great thing is that all that work will pay off handsomely.

Still confused about your niche?

Here is a list of 127 blog niche ideas that you can download.

#2-Pick your domain name

While picking a domain name (eg thisismywebsite.com) is important, I wouldn’t belly-ache over it.

I am becoming a fan of using your name as your domain name. Why? Because it is topic-neutral.

If one day, you decide you don’t like blogging about fashion but would like to pivot to food blogging, you won’t have to change the domain name except lose the first audience you built.

The main disadvantage? Nobody knows you yet.

But guess what? Nobody also knew anyone great before they became great so I say get on with it.

To pick your domain, I highly recommend that you get it from whichever company will be hosting your website (I talk about this below.)

Otherwise, you can go with NameCheap to buy your domain.

Once you get hosting, you can call your hosting company so that they help you connect your domain to your host.

#2-Get hosting

One of the best platforms for blogging  is WordPress.

I have used other platforms – Blogger, Wix and Weebly – and still stand by this fact.

And so, once you get your domain, the next thing you will need to do is to get hosting.

This is confusing because you can go to WordPress.com and get a domain and start a blog there.

This is not the option I’m talking about.

I am talking about a self-hosted WordPress site for blogging.

Take these steps to make sure you are doing it right.

How to start a self-hosted WordPress site

  1. Buy your domain name from Namecheap or GoDaddy.
  2. Go to Siteground and get their STARTUP plan for as little as $3.95/month-they will multiply this by 12 and charge you for a whole year. It is well worth the investment.
  3. Call Siteground (they are so helpful!) and let them know you would like to transfer a domain to them.
  4. Tell them you would like to install WordPress on your domain. They can even walk you through how to install it yourself.
  5. Now that WordPress is installed on your domain, you need a theme. I have two recommendations here.
    • Get a theme on Creative Market
    • Get the Divi theme- I use the Divi Theme for the coaching website I’m currently building and I LOVE IT!
  6. Follow the instructions to install your theme.
  7. You are ready to start creating epic blog posts!

Another thing I love about WordPress are the plugins that are available for you to add extra functionality to your website.

Here are 20 of the best free WordPress plugins that I recommend.

#4-Start building an email list from day 1

Even if nobody is reading your blog yet, get it ready to collect email addresses.

And before you scoff at the word “email” realize that email is still the most powerful way for you to market your blog and business.

Social media is powerful.

But as you might have heard, recently Instagram and Facebook were done for hours.

If you only depend on those platforms for visibility and marketing your blog, it is a disadvantage.

Use social media to fuel your blog and grow awareness for it.

But then, collect email addresses from people so you can build an even deeper connection.

A good free option to start with is Mailchimp.

If you want to level up and get analytics that help your marketing, I recommend Active Campaign.

Place these forms in strategic places on your website and watch the email addresses roll in.

If you use the Divi Theme, they have in-built ways for you to create email forms as well.

#5-Build traffic to your blog

Time to get people reading your blog!

You cannot just publish and hope that people will read your blog.

While Pinterest doesn’t work for every single person I know, it does work powerfully when it comes to building traffic to your blog.

How to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog

  1. Sign up for a Pinterest Business account. A regular account doesn’t give you access to the analytics you need. If you have a regular account, convert it to a business one.
  2. Upload a picture of yourself or brand.
  3. Create 5 boards that represent categories of topics you would like to cover on your blog. Name them accordingly.
  4. Use the Pinterest search function to look for pins that fit in that category and pin them to your boards so that when people show up to your Pinterest profile, it is not completely empty.
  5. Pin 5 relevant pins each to the boards you’ve created. Include pins for posts you have already created.
  6. Join group boards. This is where the power of Pinterest comes in.

How to find Pinterest group boards

There are a few ways you can find relevant Pinterest group boards. I like 2 of them.

  1. Use Pingroupie to find group boards that are relevant to you.
  2. If you have bloggers you like, go to their Pinterest profile and see what group boards they are a part of.

Group boards on Pinterest have a circle with multiple pictures in it like I show in the image below whereas individual boards don’t have this.

Once you find relevant group boards:

  1. Click through to see who owns the group board. Usually, there will be instructions on who you can contact and how you can contact them to get on their group board.
  2. If you don’t see these instructions, send them a private message via Pinterest about your interest to join their board.
  3. If someone invites you to join their group board, they will send you an invite and you will get a notification on Pinterest. Once you accept it, you can start pinning to the group board.
  4. Be respectful of any board rules!

Creating pins for Pinterest

There are multiple tools for creating pins for Pinterest.

I personally love Canva.

And then of course, there was the time I compiled 32 whole tools you can use to create graphics. You can check out that post here.

Search engine optimization

Another powerful way to build traffic to your blog is to focus on search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is a topic that deserves more than 100 blog posts.

However if you would love to learn some of my best SEO tactics, I invite you to sign up for the free 5-day traffic challenge I created to help you get your first 10,000 blog visitors.

Bottomline: once you write your posts, don’t stop there, share it everywhere you can. Pinterest is a great way to start.

If you plan on automating your pins to Pinterest, I recommend Tailwind.

Look at this blog post for ideas on how to promote your blog.

#6-Monetize your blog

Now that you are beginning to get eyes on your blog, collecting emails and building your audience, you should monetize your blog.

There are multiple ways to do this! However, there are 3 that have made me the most money. I will share details on each one of them below.

Become an affiliate

Becoming an affiliate in my opinion is one of the easiest ways to start making money with your blog.

You don’t have to create a product. You don’t have to deliver the product when people buy it.

All you have to do is tell other people about the product in an authentic way and if they click through to purchase the item, you will earn a commission.

Where will you find companies you can affiliate for?

  1. Amazon.com – Amazon is the biggest e-commerce site in the world and they can pay you for referring someone to buy products on their website. Signing up as an Amazon affiliate or as an associate as they call it, is easy. The catch with them is that you will have to make a sale within 3 months of signing up. I say don’t don’t worry about this. Even if you are unable to make a sale in that time, you can re-apply and get approved
  2. Affiliate Marketplaces – These marketplaces give to access to hundreds of companies you can become affiliates for. The three I have used in the past are:
  3. Use a product you love? You can find out if a company you love has an affiliate program simply by scrolling to the bottom of their website and looking. You can also type in “Company name affiliate” to find out about becoming an affiliate.

When I got serious with my blogging life and wanted to start making more money as an affiliate, I bought the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

The course was created by a blogger who makes $50,000 with her blog per month with her blog from affiliates.

Yes you heard that right. $50K a month.

I know what you’re saying-you would be good even with 10% of that. I hear you.

This is why I cannot recommend her course enough!

Check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing here.

Offer a service people can pay you for

This is my all-time favorite way to make money with your blog.

You have some knowledge and you’re obviously sharing it via your blog.

There are people who will read your knowledge and still want someone else to do it for them.

This is where you come in.

You can offer your services to people who show up at your blog.

My blog has allowed me to offer my services as a freelance blogger, social media manager and some people have even hired me to coach them.

All because of a blog!

The wonderful thing about offering a service is that unlike most ways of monetizing your blog, you don’t need a huge audience.

You just need someone who has a need you can fill.

Services you can offer through your blog include:

  • Coaching of any kind – financial, lifestyle, health
  • Freelance writing – you already write on your blog so why not?
  • Web design – WordPress designer if you get good at it
  • Social media management – I have an eBook on the subject. 
  • Virtual assistance

If you blog about pets, you could start your own pet-related business because of your blog.

The list could go on.

Sell your own digital products

I love digital products because you create it once and you can sell it for a long time.

If you are in a niche where the information changes, you will need to update it from time to time but that is it.

And there are various ways you can do this.

You don’t need to rack your brain here.

12 digital products ideas for your blog

  • eBooks
  • email course
  • course hosted on a site like teachable
  • printables
  • spreadsheets
  • workbooks
  • Lightroom presets
  • templates
  • paid webinars
  • workflow guides
  • journal pages
  • meal plans

Honestly, you could sell and deliver multiple products digitally.

You are only limited by your imagination.

I use Gumroad to sell my digital products but you can simply do a google search for tools to find that tool that works for you.

#7-Network and build relationships with other bloggers

You can get very far working all by yourself.

However, I believe you can go even further when you build the right relationships with other bloggers and business owners.

When you work for yourself like I do, things get a little lonely.

Plus sometimes, you will spin your wheels on an issue only to find out from someone in your network that the solution is dead simple.

And so for those reasons, I say you should build relationships with other bloggers.

Facebook groups are a great place to get started.

But I will even challenge you to go further and go to in-person events.

This year, I am attending 3 in-person events that I already know will sky-rocket my income as a blogger and business owner.

Look on websites like Eventbrite and Meetup to find in-person meetings you’re interested in.

Now, I will say, that in going down this path, make sure you are also protective of your time.

Attend meetups, go to conferences, connect offline instead of online.

Do that stuff!

But don’t allow it to steal time from your work, which is creating useful content and products that serve your audience.

The Wrap Up

So to answer the original question.

Yes, you can build a successful blog in 2019.

The key is to be strategic and business-minded about it.

Let me know what you thought of this post in the comments below.