Start a Blogging Business: 52-Step Checklist

by | Apr 26, 2021

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It’s time to commit to starting a blogging business.  Like many digital entrepreneurs, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the never-ending sea of information about “how to start a blog.”  Despite all of this readily available content, I still wasn’t finding the answers I was looking for.

Hence of the creation of this post.   Some people might only want to start one blog, about travel or their lifestyle.  Others may want to start multiple different blogs related to their interests.  Regardless of who you are, this 70 point checklist will provide you a concrete path for conceptualizing, launching, and scale a profitable blogging business in a checkpoint fashion.

Even if you’re not a beginner blogger, it’s still a good idea to save this checklist.  You never know what items you may have overlooked when you first launched.

Blogging Mindset

1. Start with Why?

You need to be crystal clear about why you’re starting a blog.  Blogging requires patience, persistence, and practice.  If you’re not clear about your “why” you’ll certainly lose the motivation to build anything worthy of people’s attention.

2. Define goals

Life anything in life, if you don’t have a goal to strive towards, you probably won’t accomplish much.  If you’re new to blogging it might require you to do a little work to understand what goals are even attainable.  Read into other successful bloggers and learn their stories.  Find motivation in the success of others and use it to help shape your goals.

3. Choose a Niche

Now that you know “why” you want to start a blog, and you’ve defined goals you can strive to accomplish, let’s decide on a niche.  You might already know what you want to blog about, great! Move on to the next step.

If you need help deciding on a niche to go with, check out our post on choosing a profitable blogging niche.  This should at least allow you to get the wheels turning and come up with some ideas.  Make sure you feel good about the niche you’re entering.  Remember, once you decide on a niche you can’t turn back!

Market Research

4. Buyer Personal (Doc.) 

Who is your customer?  Start developing a character in your mind of who you plan on helping the most.  What’s their age? Gender?  What problems are they struggling with?  The more you understand your audience, the more your words will resonate.

5. Identify Target Platforms

Now that you know who your customer is, now you need to find out where they hang out online.  What social platforms are they on?  Do they spend time in forums or message boards?

6. Identify Target Competitors (Model Success Doc.)

Next, find websites online closely related to yours.  Look at their branding, their fonts, colors, see what type of content they’re created.  Learn what social channels they’re strong on.  The more you understand about competitors in your niche, the better you’ll be able to emulate their success.

Branding

7. Core Mission and Values (Doc)

In this step, we’re doubling down on the “why”.  Identifying your core mission and values helps keep motivation high and gives you a sense of purpose to keep going when you’ll inevitably want to quit.  It takes a while to see success when you blog.  Having a core mission keeps you going even when you’re not successful (yet).

8. Value Prop & Positioning (Doc.) 

Why should someone read your blog?  Chances are there are other blogs in your same niche that have been around longer and have bigger followings.  This is why we develop a unique value proposition, to help separate you from the pack.

9. Name and Tagline

Now to the fun part.  If you haven’t already, decide on a name!  There’s a lot of tools out there to make this process easier.

Taglines aren’t always necessary but if you feel the need to include one, do it.  Be sure whatever you go with isn’t too specific to a product or service.  You’ll need to be nimble as a beginner blogger.  Your main topic could shift as you build up your audience of readers.

10. Font & Colors (Doc.)

Pick out a color scheme to use for your branding.  Tools like Colors.io make it easy to browse different shades and find a color scheme that fits perfectly with your vision.

In terms of your font, keep it simple!  Don’t go with a cursive that’s hard to read, browse through different fonts and pick a few that you like.  Play with them a bit, add bolding, italics, adjust line space, do whatever you need to do, and go with it.

11. Create a Logo 

It’s ok to be picky here.  The logo is everything about your brand, you want this to be something you’re proud of!  You have the option of creating a logo yourself using a tool like Canva, or you can outsource this work to a freelancer on Fiverr for cheap.

WordPress

12. Buy Domain and Hosting

Now we need to purchase a domain name and hosting services.  This is the first step in getting a blogging website built.

Most hosting companies will let you purchase a domain name through them, albeit it’s usually a little more expensive.  We recommend Siteground for your hosting, it’s easy to get set up and the customer support is next level.  Trust me, as you’re getting started with your blog you’re going to want 24/7 customer support.

13. Install WordPress

Once you have your hosting set up, go and install WordPress. If you need help with this step reach out to your hosting customer support.   You’ll create login credentials and access your WordPress dashboard by logging in at yourwebsite.com/wp-admin.

14. Install Theme

Every website has a theme used to build its design.   WordPress offers a ton of free themes, however, our recommendation is to use a premium theme.  Why?  Support.  Again, you’ll be needing support in as many areas as possible as you build out your blog.  Having a team that can help you through design quirks is priceless.

Our recommendation for a premium theme is Divi.  Divi offers advanced support and can troubleshoot almost any issue you face with your design.  It’s also an easy-to-use drag and drop builder, which helps tremendously.

15. Add SSL

Without getting into the weeds, an SSL ensures your website is secure.  You’ll notice a lock icon once an SSL has been installed on the site.  This can be done through your hosting company.

16. Adjust site settings

Once we’re set up with a theme, and an SSL it’s time to adjust site settings.  Most notably is your permalink settings.  For SEO purposes are sure this is set to “post-name.” 

17. Add Recommended Plugins

There’s literally a plug-in for everything.  Here’s the type of plug-ins we recommend for you to get started.

  1. Analytics
  2. Form builder/ opt-in
  3. Social sharing icons
  4. SEO plugin
  5. Image optimizer
  6. Spam filter
  7. Catching
  8. Backup

18. Add Categories

Now we get to start putting together the architecture of the website.  Find some subcategories to create.   For example, if your niche is ‘basketball training’ some categories would be; dribbling, shooting, defense, etc.

19. Add social sharing Icons

There are two primary ways your content gets viewers; searchability and shareability.  Add Social Sharing Icons to give people an easy option to share your content with others.

20. 5 Posts Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is fake dummy text that’s used as a placeholder.  Create 5 posts with lorem Ipsum.  This is so we can have content to use as we design the look and feel of our blog.  We’ll get into generating real content and blog posts later on.

21. Theme Settings

Next, you want to customize your theme settings.  Here you can add your logos, set up your menu, choose typography, amongst many other things.

22. Homepage Design

FYI – when you start a blog, your homepage is not as important as you think. People spend days or even weeks perfecting their homepage.  When you blog, your blog posts will generate most of your traffic, not your homepage.  Make sure it’s acceptable to start then move onto the next step.  Do not get caught up here.

23. Blog Design

Next, we need to design how we want our blog pages to look.  Browse blogs around the web and find different elements and features you like.  This will give you a framework for us to design your blog.

With Divi, you can use their “theme builder” feature to create a template for different blogging categories.  For example, if you search MoonlightJo’s blog you’ll see that the template for our category “blogging” is different than our template for “e-commerce.”

24. Sidebar Design

Your sidebar should have a call-to-action to your most important opt-ins.  Additionally, it’s common to have recent posts, about me and links to social media embedded in the sidebar.

25. Customize Footer

Your footer plays an important role in your blog.  Here you can provide links to all of your most important pages as well as links to all your legal pages.  It’s also a good idea to give people the option to sign up for your email list or some kind of opt-in.

26. Optimize for Mobile

Once you get building on WordPress it’s easy to overlook mobile optimization.  Make sure all your pages are responsive to mobile devices.

27. Other Plugins to Consider

Grammarly – helps prevent grammatical errors in your writing

Pretty Links – Affiliate link management tool

28. Set up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is what allows you to track all the traffic that comes to your website.  Once you create an account Google Analytics will walk you through how to add an analytics tag in the header of your theme file.

29. Set up Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a platform that allows you to track your search presence in the Google search engine.  Additionally, you can “request indexing” to get your content seen and ranking in the search engines much quicker.

30. Create Privacy Policy Page

Your privacy policy is a required legal document to disclose how you’re using people’s personal information when they come to your website.  We are not lawyers so we can’t consult on how exactly you go about setting up your privacy.  There’s a lot of resources online that will help educate you on how to set up a privacy policy page correctly.

31. Make Plugins GDPR Compliant 

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation.  It’s a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy to protect the rights of EU citizens.  The rules around this are constantly changing so take our advice as legal advice.  Do you research and make sure you’re compliant when it comes to collecting information from your users.  Read more about GDPR here.

32. Cookie Consent

Add a cookie consent plugin to help you comply with the EU GDPR’s opt-out regulations.  This will give your visitors the option to have us store their information or not.   Again, we’re not lawyers so be sure to do all your proper research to make sure you’re totally compliant.  Nobody likes legal messes!

33. Terms and Conditions Page

The terms and conditions page will limit your liability should one of your customers ever decide to take you to court.  It’s basically a legally binding contract between you and your users.  A terms and conditions page can have implications to help prevent abuses,  give you rights to your content, limit liability, and set the terms of your website.

34. Tailor the Design

Before we move onto content, do one final sweep of the website.  Make sure all your links are working, your content is clean and formatted properly.  Don’t forget to check your design on mobile devices!

You might find there are certain elements of your website you don’t like and want to change.  If you’re unable to make the changes yourself, do not spin your wheels!  We’ll come back to the design once we’re up and running.  For now, just make sure it’s “acceptable.”  If you’re still having trouble cleaning up your design, consider hiring a freelance to come in for a one-time fix.

Content Marketing

This is when the fun really begins.  We can start brainstorming about the type of content we’re going to create and develop an entire content marketing strategy.   Always keep in mind, content is the lifeblood of your blog.  

Even if you think you’re a bad writer, start writing anyway, you’ll get better!  If you decide to outsource the content – make sure you’re hiring a quality writer!  Treat your blog like a business and make sure you’re putting a quality product out there.

35. Map out value ladder offers(Doc.)

So, what is a value ladder?  Well, a value ladder is a way of visualizing how you’re going to monetize your blog.  The phrase was first coined by Russell Brunson in Dotcom Secrets and has been a staple of helping internet businesses grow ever since.

To map out your value ladder put together a list of 5 free offers you could provide your audience.  For example, someone starting a fitness blog could offer a “free 21-day diet plan” or a “free keto recipe cookbook.”

Next, generate ideas about how you could offer something of low cost to get your readers to “opt-in.”  From your “Free 21-day diet plan” you could offer a $15 protein powder at the end of the 21-days.  We’re slowly building trust and lowering the barriers to more expensive (and lucrative) offerings.

Your value ladder can have as many rungs as you’d like.  Usually, 3-4 different opt-ins before your most expensive product is a good number.   At the top of your ladder is your most product or service.   Going off our 21-day diet plan example, we could eventually offer 1 on 1 diet and fitness coaching as your premium service.

36. Identify Pillar post topics

By this point, you should have a strong idea about what pieces of content you’re going to be writing about.  Before we dive into any keyword research and blog post brainstorming, let’s identify the most important piece of content we can use as “pillar content.”

Let’s assume your blog topic is personal finance for millennials.  A 3,000-word article titled “Complete Personal Finance Guide for Millennials in 2021” would be an example of a pillar post.   You don’t need to have a lot of pillar posts, but at least one pillar piece of content per category is a good place to start.

37. Create a content calendar (.CSV)

Next, let’s get our content calendar set up.  Personally, I like to use Google Sheets In my Google Drive to set it up.  I like to add three columns: keyword, volume, competition.  This gives me a good outline to decide which content pieces I want to write first.

38. Brainstorm common blog post ideas

We’re almost to the keyword research I swear! One last step before we’re there.  We need to start brainstorming blog post ideas.  This helps to make sure you don’t put too much weight on your keyword research.  You should never write a blog post that is irrelevant to your topic just because it has solid potential to rank.  Jot down 10 or so blog posts you can start writing right away, regardless of how competitive it is to rank.

39. Keyword Research

Next, we get to do some good ole keyword research.  I find this step of building out a blog very enjoyable.  The first thing you’ll need is a solid tool to perform your keyword research on.   A lot of tools out there can be pricey, I’ve found Ubersuggest by Neil Patel to be helpful (and affordable).

When conducting your keyword research look for keywords that have very low competition, high search traffic, and relevant to your topic.

40. Add 20-25 posts to a content calendar

A base of 20-25 posts will be a good starting point until you’ll need to dive back into keyword research and generate more ideas.  Add these keywords to the content calendar we created a few steps back and you’ll be set up for the next few months in terms of content.

41. Publish 1 pillar post 

Now that we have a clear idea about what topics we’re going to blog about let’s get started with our first pillar post.  Again, this is a 3,000+ word document that explains in excruciating detail what your main topic is.

For example, at MoonlightJo, one of our main pillar posts is our ‘how to start a blog page.’

42. Publish 5 response posts

A response post is your standard blog post, usually between 500-1500 words.  5 is a good place to start just to get some content up on the web.  Eventually, you’ll want 50+ response posts to really start seeing a good amount of organic traffic.

43. Publish About Us Page

Every blog needs an about us page, why do you exist? Give people a reason to follow you, subscribe to your channels, and ultimately buy your offerings.  The more your customers can identify with your brand the stronger the pull and more affinity you’ll have with your audience.

44. Publish Contact Us Page

Speaking of your audience, give people the option to get in touch with you.   A simple contact us page will do.

SEO Checklist

45. SEO Checklist

At first, you don’t have to put that much focus on your SEO.  Just keep writing and your SEO will come.  There are some SEO 101’s you should take care of in the meantime though.  Check out our SEO checklist to make sure you’re hitting the basics as you start blogging.  

Email Marketing

46. Sign up for an email marketing service

Email marketing is the engine that keeps your sales funnels full and generates profits.  It’s absolutely critical for any blog that plans on making a profit.

We like and use Convertkit for our email marketing needs.  Convertkit makes it simple and easy to build automation.  Trust me, when you’re just starting, simple and easy is what you need.

47. Create an Automation

Once you’re set up with an email marketing service let’s get automation set up.   By this point, you should already have clarity on what “call-to-actions” you have sprinkled over the website.   When creating automation be sure to always provide valuable content and never spam people.   

Through your automation, you’ll be able to connect directly with your audience.  This can be extremely valuable to understand what your subscribers are looking for.   The more you know about your audience the better you’ll be able to support their goals and offer products most relevant for them.

48. Add contact form and opt-ins to the website

Next, add contact forms throughout the website.  There’s a number of ways to add in a contact form.  Common ways these are used are in the sidebar, on the main menu, at the bottom of posts, and even sprinkled into the post sometimes.  Be sure to connect your contact form with your email service.

Social Media

49. Create relevant social media accounts

For some reason, everyone seems to think they need to be on every social media profile that’s ever existed in order to do social media right.   As Ron Swanson says, it’s better to whole-ass one thing than to half-ass two things.  Focus on the social media platforms that are the most relevant for your niche.   Selling B2B industrial automation equipment probably wouldn’t do so well on Pinterest.

50. Fill out profiles

Now that you’ve decided what social media platforms to live on, start filling out your profiles!  Don’t skimp here, be sure to add photos, the about us section, and anything else that could be relevant to your blog.  The more filled out the better.

51. Automate the first 30 days of posting

Let’s face it, nobody has the time to jump into their Instagram multiple times per day and post a high-quality post.  Tools like Tailwind allow you to schedule your posts as far out as you’d like.  You can easily knock outposts for the next 30-60 days on a Sunday afternoon.

52. Stay consistent / engage

This is BY FAR the most important step of ensuring you have a successful blog.  Bloggers who fail do so because they QUIT, not because their blog was incapable of succeeding.  Take the time, write thoughtful content, and offer more value than anyone else in your niche.  If you keep these things in mind there’s no way your blog will fail.  Just keep pushing through and keep posting!

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