How to start a Blog and Quit your job
How to start a blog? Well, building a blog from scratch isn’t easy. You will need the right motivations before you even think to start this project, it will take time, some money, and a lot of thought, but it is possible.
Making a living from a blog, requires your best skills as a writer, webmaster, server admin, SEO specialist, Social Media marketer, and photographer; to make a full straight up start.
If right now you’re thinking “I don’t have what it takes” then, you are certainly wrong! This guide will prepare you on how to start a blog in 2014, and when you finish your reading you will know exactly what is needed: what to read, learn and improve.
When Should I Quit my Job?
This is the first question that comes to our minds, when we are thinking of quitting our day job to be a professional blogger. The answer is simple: When your incomes from your blog equals or exceed your current income. You may also make a bold move and quit when you estimate that your incoming traffic is increasing at such rate that you don’t have to wait, however there a risk factor involved that will have to be analyzed before making this decision.
Knowing your skills
Must likely you have some or all of the skill listed above, but you have to know your limitations and overcome it by reading and studding the subject. There will be things that you may not understand, but with the right search you will have all the information to make it happen. Remember “The internet knows everything, but it will tell you nothing” you have to ask first.
First Stage: Planning
In every project this is the vital and most important part. You will have to know beforehand what you need, what are you going to do, the aim of your blog, and the hot topics for it.
There is some discipline required and managing your free time is a must. Since we will be developing this project on the side, your free time will be affected, however, there is always time for everything with good management. And there is plenty of time to get your blog online. Always remember to dedicate a part of the day reading and learning.
Second Stage: Prepping
Before you begin it is necessary to prepare for all the possible situations that may happen for you. There is always tree scenarios: one bad, another regular, and the worst case. The preparation is vital because you must be ready for your worst case, by having that covered you may freely work without any worries.
For this project, saving money is a crucial part. You will have to save enough money to compensate the worst case scenario. During the startup it’s important to save as much as you can, always making some numbers. It is recommended to keep your spending and income money in a spreadsheet to know exactly how much you may save.
-Setting up you Goals
The goal is simple, being a professional blogger, and hopefully one of the most trusted and know blogger. The first step is to create short term goals, setting up you server, and selecting your domain name. Take your time doing this, because these are important decisions.
Have a backup plan, the worst case scenario needs to be taken care before it happens, having a job opportunity in your pocket may be a solution, always have a plan B and C.
Third stage: Starting
This is the point where you decide that this is for you. Nothing can stop you, you will finish this project no matter what. That is the mental state that we need to have all the time. You already covered all the bad things, and you are ready, so let’s start!
-Type of blog
You need to choose a type of blog that is the most suitable for your skills. If you know about cooking or it is one of your best hobbies, when you start talking about it, you never stop. This is the best type of blog, the one with the never ending topics that you love to talk about, but this time you will be writing.
-Selecting your Domain name
Careful thought is necessary here. The internet is full of domain names already taken, even more if you want “.com”. You may put “yournameblog.com” or anything that you make like, maybe oriented to your type of blog, this will boost your ranking within search engines.
Hosting can be very difficult to select, keep in mind that having a good hosting will improve your reachability, ranking within search engines, and also limit your visits. Since we are going all out with this project I would recommend at least a dedicated Xen VPS with Cpanel and 1024Mb of RAM.
Cpanel will help you to easily install WordPress, Blogger or your preferred content manager, which usually comes with an extra cost. This cost can be avoided if you have skill as a server admin, and setting up Apache, MySQL and PHP is very easy for you.
Why use a dedicated server instead of the WordPress site? We need our site to be professional from the start. Using WordPress will give you unwanted ads that will be monetized to WordPress instead of you. A full server control will allow you to have all the ads that you want with full control of it.
-Selecting your Content Manager.
Selecting the content manager is very important, since it is the core of your blog, and it will help you to insert easily a new blog post, manage your comments, and your ads. There are many options available. However we will be focusing in WordPress since it is one of the most used and bellowed content manager.
Now that you have your VPS fully functional it is important to install your WordPress using the script manager. This will give you access to the admin page, page where you install new plugins, manage content, themes and anything related to your website.
-Setting up your DNS
When you have your server ready, you will have your public IP address in it. Now you can insert this information in the DNS records related to “@”. After a few minutes your WordPress website will be accessible from your domain, and you will see the famous “just another wordpress site” page.
Fourth stage: Selecting and buying your Responsive theme.
This part is one of the most important after selecting your domain name. It will change the look and the feel of your blog. Most likely you will spend several hours searching for the right one, and before you buy always double check the reviews about the theme. If you see pictures and samples, every detail can be changed, except the layout. With a little bit of imagination you can see your blog before it’s created, and if you like what you imagine, that is the perfect theme for you.
There are different types of themes, but we need the “responsive” type. This means that if you load the browser with your cell phone or tablet the page will change, and this is exactly what we need. Now people read in their beds before sleeping, and they use their tablet or cell phone. We must be ready for their visits.
-Installing the Theme
Once that your have the zip file containing the theme, you can upload your theme directly to WordPress and it will automatically apply it to your site. Every detail about it needs to be changed. Use your own pictures, your own logo, and your own words to describe your site, nothing is more important than being original.
-Keeping your server secure
Having a server is a responsibility, securing the server is always a 365 days per year priority. Keep backups of everything, a full server image if it’s possible. Otherwise make regular backups of MySQL and another of the WWW folder that contains all your WordPress files. By doing this, if anything goes wrong you can be up again in no time.
Fifth Stage: Going Live
At this point you will have 90% of your setup ready. Now the only thing left is to go live and write our first blog post. Remember to put your face in the blog, it is more personalized and people get to know you.
A blog post that’s 300 words long will work, but a long post with more words can also do the trick. Write about what you want and don’t let the word count control you. Quality content has to be original. It comes from the heart, from your experience, misfortunes and all the good things in your life. If you are writing about something, a proper investigation is required. Most likely there will be a blog talking about your topic, but the main difference lies on you: make it personal, and make it yours!
Keep an eye on the comment selection, even if it’s a bad comment, remember to answer it politely and take your time by doing so. Remember that there is no such thing as a bad publicity. If there is a lot of comments, the search engine will pick up their words and will improve your ranking. Moderate the flaming comments, because they will happen.
Sixth Stage: Branding
Think of your blog as your signature. Is personal, people are getting to know you just by the topics that you write, and without noticing, you are creating a brand. People will Bookmark your site and will become your readers. Improving the site, topics, and discussion will help to create a brand that people remember; if they find you by searching the web, you will be the first option when making a click.
-Making New Friends
Just like the real life bloggers can become a celebrity, you have to get to know your audience, and become friends with other bloggers. You may contact them on twitter, or even Facebook, making new friends that last. Link their blogs from your own and they will appreciate it, most likely doing the same for you.
Seventh Stage: Increasing Traffic
There are two ways that a common visitor may stumble upon your blog. One is from a search engine and other blogs links, and the other is from a paid advertisement.
-Optimizing your site for SEO and link building:
Writing blog posts that are “SEO friendly” can be very tricky and may work for a while, but the search engines are constantly evolving and this kind of content is being ignored more and more. The best way to improve your SEO from the post, is to write without thinking on the search engines, they will list your site without any problems and most likely, will get on top and stay there.
-Installing the plugin SEO by Yoast
This is a simple yet powerful plugin for WordPress. It will help you to write your META tags by giving you a preview on how it will look on the search engine. For SEO this is the most helpful plugin that I have found so far, and it’s free.
Having a newsletter is something that has not changed since the creations of blogs. This will help you to increase traffic by letting your subscriber know that there is a new post that can be read right away. Avoid notifications that pops on the screen asking the new visitor to subscribe, they will not easily give away their email address without getting to know your blog; you may add this option on the side bar or any place where it can be visible all the time.
There are several services available that you may use for this application, and it’s better to use this kind of service because it won’t have the same limitations as regular mails do.
-Social media integration
The right approach is to have Twitter, a fan page of Facebook and Google+. Each one of them will bring fresh visitors to your site, focus in all of them since they represent almost 100% of the users online. If you have within you skills making videos, have also a YouTube account that links to your blog.
Eight Stage: Monetizing your visits
This is the piece of cake that we are looking for. With the right amount of traffic you may have Google Ads, and several other ad networks that will provide you with the desired income. Avoid using intrusive and inappropriate ads, because it can lead your visitors away; keep them where they can see them and related to the topic that you are discussing.
Making a living from blogging is a long process, requires social skills and many other that can be developed in no time. Keeping your job during this process is the smart choice. This transition can last only a few months or maybe years before it becomes fully profitable, just follow the tips above on how to start a blog, and do your best. With a little patience and hard work you can become a professional blogger and quit your job.
By Darius Gaynor