You need to start blogging today!
Yes, you heard that correctly: I believe that everyone should have their own blog, which is why I decided to write this guide to blogging.
Over the last few months, I have helped several of my friends begin a blog. As more and more people began asking me for advice on how to start a blog, I finally realized that I needed to create a guide to blogging that I could point them towards.
My hope with this article is that it will explain why you should start blogging, how to launch your blog, and how to determine your end goals and/or monetization strategies (if applicable).
Why You Should Start A Blog
There are a ton of different reasons for you to start a blog. We could talk all day about the reasons a blog is beneficial, but here are my top three reasons you should start a blog today.
Writing is therapeutic
You may not believe this right now, but I promise you it is true.
Hell, I failed English in high school and absolutely hated writing. Yet I write almost every day now and think it is one of the best things I have ever done.
Writing is amazing for helping you get ideas out of your head and put your mind to rest. You don’t even have to show your blog to anybody for this to be the case. I know several people who have a “blog” that is more of a journal, and nobody has ever seen what they write except for themselves.
Flesh out ideas
They say if you want to master a subject you should teach it to somebody else.
Writing blog posts has the exact same effect. If you really want to understand a topic, write an article about it.
I did this in my article about self-directed IRA investing.
I sat down and read 10-15 articles about self-directed IRA investing strategies. I studied the ins and outs of everything I would need to know to decide how to incorporate this into my plan. Not only do I feel absolutely confident that I know how to use a self-directed IRA now, but I was able to share this information with my audience in a way that made sense for them.
Possibly the most important reason you should start a blog is that it will serve as a central hub for everything you do online!
A blog is one place where you have complete control over your platform and what happens with your audience. If YouTube suddenly changed their algorithms and obliterated your revenue, a blog would still be there. This holds true for any social platform.
For example, one of the main reasons I use Teachable for my online courses (instead of Udemy) is that Teachable allows you to have access to your students’ emails. You can maintain your audience and students even if you leave the platform.
A blog can receive traffic from Google, social media, your podcast, advertisements, etc., while simultaneously helping you build an email list or funnel traffic into future investors or students.
No matter what your future plans are, a blog is the most necessary piece of the puzzle in my opinion.
Before You Begin Blogging
Don’t jump right into blogging without sitting down and determining what you want the platform to be.
Don’t get me wrong, you could jump into blogging without any idea what you’re doing and just start writing.
That’s exactly what I did, and I recommend you take some time to plan ahead…trust me.
I basically just grabbed the tiger by the tail at the beginning and enjoyed the ride. This was extremely ineffective, and I don’t recommend it!
Determine Long Term Goals for your Platform
You should spend some time and figure out what your goals are with the blog. Do you want to document what you’re doing, use it as a landing page for people coming into your network, or just use it to keep people updated about your life?
Maybe you have no goals with it, and that is fine. But it is good to try and plan out your 3-5 year vision for the blog before you begin writing.
Who is Your Avatar (Target Audience)
Once you know what you plan to write about and what you want the blog to look like, you need to determine your Avatar.
Avatar is just a fancy word that bloggers use to describe your target audience.
For example, I know that my Avatar with the Military Millionaire community is 75-85 percent males, between 18 and 40 years of age.
Determining who your audience is gives you a great advantage for writing. For example, I would write an article for women over the age of 65 MUCH differently than I do when trying to resonate with a 19-year-old male Marine, haha.
Do yourself a favor and think this through before planning your content strategy!
Determine your content strategy…
What will your content strategy look like?
Will you write for fun, to document life, to boost credibility in your space? Are you looking to create networking opportunities, educate people, monetize your blog somehow, or just write because it is therapeutic?
Depending on your blogging goals, you will have significantly different content.
If you’re writing for fun, your blog will probably turn out very free-spirited, and what you write about might be whatever comes to mind at the time or weekly updates.
If you decide to write content in order to educate people in your niche, you might have a very structured approach. You may release articles in very structured sequences. This will take more planning initially, but once planned you’ll know exactly what you’re writing about for the next few months.
Why Are You Blogging?
Ultimately, all of these questions can be boiled down into answering one question: Why are you starting a blog? Once you know the answer to this question, most of the above decisions will just flow naturally.
How to Start A Blog
I recommend that you use WordPress for your blog. When I first started my blog I built it on wix.com, and that lasted less than two months.
WordPress is the largest platform in the world and absolutely has the most support available to you as you build your website. Do yourself a favor and start on WordPress from the beginning.
The first thing you need to do is purchase your domain name. Your domain name is the URL where your website will exist, www.frommilitarytomillionaire.com for example.
I recommend that you find 5-10 domain names that you think are catchy and then search the internet to determine if they are available for purchase. You can use Domain.com to validate if the domain names you are interested in are still available for use.
You can also purchase the URL from domain.com.
I would take these 5-10 potential names and create a poll on your Facebook page to see what your friends and family think. Most of the time one of the URLs will be drastically more popular than the rest.
The URL your friends choose may not be the one that you personally liked, but that doesn’t matter. Go with the most popular name because the odds are that most people will like this name as well.
That being said, you can pick an abstract name like Google and absolutely become successful. Just be sure you are 100% committed to it.
Where a website is hosted matters. Hosting companies are the link between your domain and actually being plugged into the internet. Domain.com can host your website, but I personally used HostGator when I first started my website.
Now, my hosting is run by my web designer. Ultimately, any hosting platform you choose will be fine at the beginning. As your platform grows and traffic increases, you will most likely need to upgrade to a faster host in order to ensure your page speed doesn’t slow down.
Don’t get too wrapped up around this at the very beginning.
The theme is the outlay of your website. You can spend some money to have somebody design your website, but that isn’t 100% necessary from the beginning. I started with a pretty rough design, and then updated it about 3 months later. Around one year after starting the blog I finally spent the money to have my website redesigned well.
If you have the money I would suggest having a decent design from the beginning.
You will need to choose a theme for your website. I personally recommend using Elementor because it is streamlined and has some great looking templates you can use on your website. The first thing my designer did was change my theme to Elementor, and I’m a fan for sure!
Inside of Elementor there are a ton of different themes you can choose, so your site can take on many different styles inside of this platform.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most complicated pieces of starting a website and arguably the most important.
SEO is the art of getting your website to appear on the first page of popular search engines like Google, YouTube, Bing, etc.
There is a running joke in the SEO world that the best place to bury a body is on page two of Google. While funny, I can attest that just moving up one spot and being the bottom search result on page one of Google (instead of the top of page two) can result in a whole lot more people viewing your website.
While SEO itself is very complex, there are (luckily) some plugins that make it very simple to understand. I actually just moved my entire website from the Yoast SEO plugin to the RankMath plugin, and I couldn’t be happier.
RankMath is new to the market, and in order to gain market share they have begun to provide an extreme amount of value to their users…for free! Obviously they will have a paid version of their program at some point, but for the time being, it is completely free!
Email MC/Convert Kit
Starting a blog is great, but if you really want to grow, you’re going to want to capture as many email addresses as possible. One of the most valuable aspects of your blog is the ability to capture email addresses for your newsletter.
When people opt in to your email list, it allows you to send them automated email sequences to get to know you better. It allows you to get them connected to your Facebook group, podcast, YouTube channel, and other platforms.
You are able to push sales letters to your email list as well to retarget people who purchased from you previously, or even those who have yet to purchase from you.
The bottom line is this: if you don’t spend some time to start an email list, you are absolutely missing out.
There are tons of email marketing platforms you can use, but I personally recommend (and use) Mailchimp. I like Mailchimp because it is free to use until you have over 1,000 people on your list. This is a big win when you’re first starting out because you are most likely bootstrapping the blogging process.
You can always move your email list(s) over to a new provider as your list grows if you decide it is worth paying for a different provider. That was my initial thought process, but I haven’t had any complaints with Mailchimp to date, so I never changed over to another platform.
While we are on the subject of emails, OptinMonster is by far the best way to build your email list. They have all kinds of awesome email capture pop-ups and capture at least 4% of my website traffic each month! This may not seem like much – and I could probably do much better if I was better at copywriting – but when you’re getting over 10,000 views a month, that translates to 400 new people on your email list…passively.
I absolutely recommend you utilize OptinMonster, and you don’t even need the premium version for it to be quite effective!
A lot of people get stuck designing a logo for their blog or business and spend a ton of time worrying about it.
Don’t get me wrong, having a logo is important, but it isn’t the end all be all of your website. Don’t get so tied up in your logo that you let it stop you from progressing with the blog.
I like to have several logo options presented for me and then poll my friends and family to see which are their favorites, just like I recommended you do when deciding on a domain name.
The website I got my logo designed through was freelancer.com. I like Freelancer because you can set up a contest with a set amount of “prize money” and let designers submit designs for you to choose from. I especially like this option because it allows you to automatically set up a poll that you can send to friends and family to help you narrow it down.
Another solid option is 99 Designs. 99 Designs is more expensive, but there are some very high-end designers on this page. It also allows you to get much more specific about the style and color of logo you would like.
As you begin designing your website, you’ll want to figure out what pages you want on the menu bar. You don’t want the website to appear overly chaotic, but there are a few pages you should definitely have on your site.
- Contact Us
You have a website name, logo, theme, design concept, and email marketing locked in, and now it is time to start producing content. Once you get the kinks ironed out in your website, content becomes king. You need to master this and become consistent about pushing content as soon as possible.
Look at your overall content strategy that we developed at the beginning of this article. Focus on who your target audience is and what you believe they will be searching for on the internet.
If you can figure out what your avatar is searching Google for and then write content that answers those questions, you will slowly but surely attract more and more readers.
When you first start writing articles, I would focus on keywords that have 100-1,000 searches per month and not a huge amount of competition. A tool like Ubersuggest will allow you to search specific words and phrases to see how much traffic they receive, how hard they are to rank for, and what articles are receiving the most views from those searches.
You can use this information to target keywords that you have a chance of ranking for. As your website grows, you can begin to target more competitive keywords, and Google might actually let you show up in the search results, haha.
Also, know that ranking on Google is a long process. It may take 3 months, 6 months, sometimes a year before Google will recognize your article as worthy of showing up on the first page of search results.
That is why it is important to produce quality content consistently. The more content you produce, and the higher quality it is, the more likely you are to start attracting traffic from Google and other search engines!
You have probably seen a lot of listicles online by now. These are the articles like “11 things you need to know about…” or “10 best…”
These articles do well on Google, and people enjoy reading them, but they aren’t always possible to write. Sometimes a topic just can’t be compressed into a bullet point listicle post, but when it can, that is a great way to show up in search results.
An added bonus of listicles is that you might even show up in the “rich snippets” section of Google. Rich snippets are the little drop down boxes at the top of page one on Google where you can click to see your answers on the main search results page. When you are featured as the rich snippet for a topic you will get even more views than you would just by being on the first page of results.
Collaborations and roundup posts are another great way to drive engagement. In these articles you can write about top people in your niche in hopes that they will link back to the article or share it with their audience.
Collaborations could also be posts you and another blogger write together, or where you curate ideas from multiple bloggers. You could even allow some people to write guest posts for your blog if you like, but be careful not to allow them to include more than one or two links back to their website.
Collaborations can be a great way to get in front of new audience members.
The most important thing you can do when starting a blog is remain consistent.
You will not be the best writer in the world when you start. You will not rank on Google immediately or see results immediately.
Many blogs die before they ever have a chance to flourish because the person who started them loses focus or just stops writing.
I was a terrible writer when I first started the Military Millionaire blog, and yes, I made a goal to publish one blog post every single Monday without missing a beat. This consistency (and I’ve never missed) has led to the steady growth of the blog and my entire platform.
You don’t need to be great when you start blogging, but you need to be consistent if you ever want to be great!
SEO Research / Targets
I alluded to this earlier, but you want to focus on topics that people are searching for but that aren’t extremely competitive.
As your blog grows, you’ll be able to target more largely searched terms, but don’t waste your time on this right off the bat. If you think Google is going to view your brand-new blog as more authoritative than BiggerPockets on the term “real estate investing”…well, good luck I suppose, but you are mistaken!
You need to focus on much more specific searches if you want to begin attracting more people to your blog.
If you go to Google.com and begin typing your main topic idea into the search bar it will show you what other people are searching for. Use this information to help narrow down your topic ideas.
You should also install “Keywords Everywhere” on your web browser so that when you search Google it will show you how many people are searching for that term. Sometimes nobody is searching for that term, and sometimes millions of people are searching for that term every month. You just never know until you explore!
Just search a bunch of topics you want to write about, and then use Google and Ubersuggest to determine which of those topics you need to hammer out first and begin building your content strategy around.
Obviously you want the blog to grow over time. Here are some strategies that have helped me grow the Military Millionaire blog over the last two years, and they can work for you as well!
Backlinks are one of the main driving forces behind your growth.
A backlink is when somebody links to your article or webpage from their website, podcast, social media, or other avenue. Google views this as credibility from another person in your sphere of influence.
The more influential the page that links to you, the more beneficial that link will prove to be. There are a lot of ways you can get people to link back to your website, but the best way is just to produce solid content that people want to reference in their articles.
Over time you will naturally accrue more links pointing back to your website, and this will help you grow faster and faster.
- Guest Posts
One tried and true way to earn backlinks for your website is to write guest posts for other websites in your niche. If you are a real estate blog, and you write guest posts for other real estate blogs, it will help you build authority in your space.
When you write the guest blog post, you can place one or two links back to specific articles on your page and one link to your main homepage in your bio at the bottom of the article. Don’t spam the post with backlinks, and don’t try to force affiliate links into the guest post.
Focus on adding as much value to the audience where you are writing the guest post. The better that article is, and the more it helps the audience of the website you’re guest posting on, the more it benefits you.
This is a true win-win strategy!
Podcasting is a very popular medium for communicating with the outside world right now. There are tons of reasons you should be a guest on podcasts.
You can gain a lot of traction by appearing as a podcast guest on various shows. On top of that, podcasts are a great way to boost your credibility.
One of the most understated reasons – from a blog standpoint – is that you will gain backlinks to your website through the show notes. If the podcast is available on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, Buzzsprout, Podbean, Stitcher, or wherever…you will get links from those locations.
You know I had to squeeze networking into this article somehow.
You should absolutely be networking with people in your niche all the time. The bigger your network is, the more effectively you’ll be able to grow your platform.
Networking with other bloggers, YouTubers, and influencers in your niche will open up all sorts of opportunities for you.
Make a conscious effort to reach out to other bloggers in your space and get to know them. I promise you that networking will be one of the most important things you can do.
Blog Monetization Strategies
The moment you’ve all been waiting for!
Can you really make money blogging?
The short answer is, yes, you can!
There are more ways to monetize your blog than you can even imagine. Some of these strategies require almost no work at all and are truly passive, while others will require continual improvement and involvement.
Likewise, some of these strategies will make you very little money, and some of them have the potential to make you millions of dollars!
This list is by no means all-inclusive, as you are only limited by your own creativity. The sky's the limit with online platforms, and I encourage you to think big!
The first monetization strategy a lot of people use is placing advertisements on their website.
You know how sometimes you’ll be reading an article and you’ll notice that the pair of running shoes you were looking at on Amazon the other day are showing up all over the place on that article?
Yep, those are the kinds of advertisements we are talking about.
There are a few platforms you can use to set this up, but the simplest and most common is Google AdSense.
I don’t personally use advertisements to monetize my website at this time. I’m not a fan of how cluttered they look on websites and would prefer my website look clean.
On top of this, advertisements require a substantial amount of traffic in order to bring in decent revenue. On average a website will bring in $1 to $1.50 per 1,000 impressions on your website.
An impression just means that somebody saw the advertisement.
To put that in perspective, if you have 10,000 impressions on your website in a month, you will probably earn between $10 and $15 per month.
Advertisements can bring in some revenue for your website, but you need to consider how cluttered you want the website to look and how much traffic you need to generate for it to be profitable.
Affiliate marketing takes more work but can also be much more lucrative than advertisements. In case you have never heard of affiliate marketing before, it is when you recommend a company, course, product, or service that you like. If somebody uses your link or referral code to purchase what you recommended, you will receive a payout.
There are a lot of different types of affiliate programs, and you can weave them into your content in a ton of different ways.
For example, let’s say that you were an affiliate for my real estate investing course. You could write a blog post about real estate investing and recommend my course as a resource for people to learn the basics of investing. Assuming I gave a 30% affiliate commission, you would earn 30% of all course sales from people who bought my course through your link.
There are affiliate programs that pay a commission and other programs that pay you per lead. Hell, there are even affiliate programs that pay a recurring commission like Propstream. If you purchase Propstream to help find and analyze deals through my code, I will receive a 30% recurring commission for as long as you maintain your membership.
A word of caution though. I would suggest that you don’t make a habit out of recommending products or services you don’t actually use.
The more your audience trusts you, the better your affiliate sales will be. Also, you should never sell your soul for money.
Don’t become an affiliate spammer.
Coaching and consulting is probably the least passive way to earn income blogging.
It can also be one of the most lucrative!
Depending on your niche, it is quite possible to charge large sums of money for coaching and/or consulting services.
You won’t generally be able to put these tasks on autopilot. Sure, you can conduct group coaching services, but there is still a time requirement.
There is nothing wrong with coaching or consulting, but I don’t do much of it because of the sheer amount of time required. I ran a test-pilot 6-week coaching course last year and quickly realized there was no way I could do it consistently while on active duty.
Some people try their hand at coaching and fall in love with it, while others realize they don’t enjoy it.
You can absolutely make a large amount of money coaching people. However, you need to be aware of the time and effort required for this monetization strategy.
Online courses have become exceedingly popular over the last couple of years. You might even be able to argue that they have become so popular that the market is oversaturated.
I still believe there is a market for online courses, but please don’t be the knucklehead selling courses on things you barely understand yourself, haha.
Creating an online course requires a lot of time. You must outline the course, record the content, decide whether you want to include tests or additional resources, etc.
That being said, once the course is completed and published online, there is a good chance you can make it completely passive. You can automate the sales funnel, checkout, course, and everything else, depending on how you set it up.
Another monetization strategy is to create a membership site. This is ultimately what BiggerPockets has done with their platform.
They created an extremely helpful platform and then created a membership option for those who want even more value out of the platform.
Building a membership site can be quite lucrative, but you need to ensure that what you offer in the membership is valuable enough that people will continue to pay for it month over month.
Real Estate Investors
If you are a real estate investor, there are several indirect ways you can monetize your platform too.
For example, as your community grows, you will gain more and more credibility. This credibility might lead to people bringing you deals to buy, offering to allow you to partner on deals, asking for you to be a partner with them in order to tackle a deal. It will also open doors to raising additional capital for deals you’re investing in.
There are a ton of indirect ways that you can monetize a blog. This is harder to track but can be just as lucrative, if not more so, than the strategies previously described.
Ultimately, many industries will have similar opportunities. There are also a ton of other direct and indirect ways to monetize your blogging platform.
Keys to Success As a Blogger
No matter what you decide to write about or how you plan to monetize your blog (if at all), there are a few keys to success I want to reiterate.
Each year, tons of people decide to start a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, business, hobby, etc. Each year, tons of those people quit as well.
I believe that the main thing that separates those who succeed from those who fail is consistency. You won’t gain traction immediately.
You may not even gain traction in the first year or two. Heck, I was paying to work 10-30 hours per week on my platform for the first year or two.
That being said, if you can remain consistent and continue to produce quality content at regular intervals, I am confident that you will achieve success!
At the risk of sounding like I’m beating a dead horse, networking is important…that is all.
The more you network with people in your space, the more opportunities you will have to collaborate with other creators.
Collaborating with other successful creators to develop quality content is a win-win opportunity for you both. You can create some pretty cool content and reach a lot more people when you collaborate this way.
Add as much value as humanly possible to your audience.
The more value you add to your readers, the more they will share your content.
Figure out what your audience wants to learn about and then spend time providing the best content possible around those topics.
Double-Down When Something Works
If you are lucky enough to have a piece of content go viral early on, you should double-down on that topic. Once you figure out why your content went viral, you should try to create content in that same style or topic in quick succession.
Theoretically, you will be able to ride this wave and grow your channel quickly.
You don’t need to completely change your strategy, but include a little more of whatever worked for you, and you’ll do well!
Yes, consistency is so important that I mentioned it twice!
Military Millionaire Guide to Blogging
Ultimately, you don’t need to start a blog in order to be successful in life or in business.
However, blogging is a viable strategy to expand your outreach and build a community.
If I had never started the Military Millionaire blog, you wouldn’t be reading this, and my platform may not exist on any level.
Hopefully this guide to blogging was helpful to you. If you have any questions, throw them in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!