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So, you have a hobby, passion or topic you would LOVE to blog about! You’re not exactly sure where to start but you know at some point you’d like to make money with your blog. If that sounds like you, then you’re in the right spot! Blogging has been the backbone of many personal brands. Blogging opens the door to a unique way of sharing what you love to do with everyone online. If taken seriously, it can also provide an excellent source of income while building credibility and trust with your readers.
Today, I want to share with you how you can set up your blog to give your personal brand the extra horsepower to make a positive impact.
1. Know Your Why
First things first, know your “why”. This is such a crucial step because knowing your why will determine the trajectory of your blog.
An interesting quote Michael Hyatt said was, “When you know your WHY, you’ll know your WAY.”
This is absolutely applicable to blogging.
Blogging, taken seriously, has the potential to give you the freedom, income, and impact you desire.
The reason I started this blog is I love talking about personal branding. It gets ignored way too often because not many people talk about this. I want to make personal branding sound sexy and shed more light on this topic. I want more people to get that “ah ha!” moment when they find something useful in my writing because that never gets old. Writing about what I love never gets old. I was absolutely delighted to help one of my first clients make $1500 by helping them with their personal brand and that’s such a great feeling!
At the time of writing this, I’m not making hundreds of thousands of dollars blogging. I’m not flying across the world. I’m not living the lifestyle I desire. I do know one thing though. If I can help enough people in the world through my blog, there is no limit to where this blog can take me. I want you to develop that exact mindset when you begin your blog. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will be destined for failure.
Don’t underestimate the power of personal branding.
As you think about your “why”, remember that it should be hinged on your passion and your ability to bring value to individuals through your uniqueness. That is what will set you apart from the crowd and that’s what will allow you to build a personal brand blogging.
2. Purchase Your Domain Name
Once step one is complete, it’s time to take action! The first step to creating an awesome blog is picking the right domain name that suits you and what you stand for.
In my case, I picked “WiFi Mocha” for 3 reasons.
- Having wifi and coffee provides unlimited opportunities to build a personal brand online.
- My nickname in college was Mocha (with “cha”) because when I ordered a mocha for the first time in college (I was a late bloomer), I pronounced it wrong and all my friends found it hilarious and started calling me “mo-CH-a.”
- I simply really enjoy caffé mochas. (I also like lattes haha)
There’s no secret sauce recipe to picking the right domain name. When people ask, “What domain name should I purchase?!” I like to provide a general guideline, but it really comes down to the individual and what’s right for them. If you aren’t sure on what name to pick, feel free to ask us inside our awesome Facebook group!
Here is my guideline:
- Avoid numbers in your domain name as that can cause confusion when actually saying it out loud. For example, www.yourawesome8.com. People will ask is it the number “8” or the number “eight”. If you need to explain that every time you tell someone in person, it will get old really fast.
- Follow the triple S rule. Short, Simple, and Sweet. To do this keep the domain name between 4-10 letters long if possible. A lot of the biggest brands follow the Triple S rule. Apple, Amazon, Google, Adidas, Nike, Craigslist, etc. etc… Now if you can’t find a good short domain name, don’t stress over it. There are hundreds and hundreds of longer domain names that perform well. At the end of the day, it’s about what your brand represents.
- Always try to get the “.com” version of your domain name. It’s harder to find a .com domain name, but if you can, snag it asap! Having a .com is more well-received worldwide.
- Use your name if you like! If you want to personal brand your name, that also is a great idea. It will give you flexibility if you ever want to pivot into a different topic.
- Try to keep your domain name in sync with social media accounts. (e.g., my Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram handle are also @wifimocha.)
Once you have a name picked out, you can go to domains.google and purchase your domain name. The reason I like purchasing my domain names from Google is that it’s very simple to manage if you have a Gmail account.
They also don’t con you in adding features and benefits once you purchase your domain name like some other domain name registrars.
3. Time to Get Hosting
If you’re new to blogging you might now be familiar with what hosting is. To keep it simple, hosting is where ALL your blog data is contained.
Imagine you’re about to build a custom house. The first step you need to do is buy the land that you will build the house on. Hosting is basically that piece of land. It’s the server that will contain all your images, files, and data.
There’s a lot of debate about which hosting is best. From the research I’ve done, trial and error, and personal experience, SiteGround is by far the best hosting platform.
SiteGround has provided amazing customer service whenever I ran into any issues and has been extremely fast and reliable. Whenever I had a general question they were willing to assist.
Another big reason why I went with SiteGround is unlike Bluehost, HostGator and a lot of other large hosting brands, they are not part of EIG which is a huge bonus. EIG has had a horrible reputation for buying hosting brands and then ruining them by centralizing their service. If you search EIG managed hosting brands on Google, you will see a lot of customer complaints and issues. While SiteGround isn’t perfect, they experience far fewer issues and have built a very reputable brand.
Even members already on Bluehost are making the jump to SiteGround.
That said, some do still promote Bluehost because it works for them. Others promote it because they offer higher affiliate commissions. I promote SiteGround because I have tried it and haven’t had a hiccup. They provide faster service, excellent support, and the most reliable platform while offering great starting prices.
4. Design Your Blog
You are cruising along now! Here comes the fun, yet most challenging part of building a blog.
You may be curious why I didn’t recommend Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress.com since they are a self-hosted platform and easy to use.
The answer is simple. This will dramatically hinder your blog growth when it’s time to monetize it.
Not only do they have worse search engine optimization, but they are also immensely limited when it comes to adding functionally. Trust me, I had a wordpress.com (not to be confused for WordPress.org) site for a long time and it completely stunted the growth of my blog. I ended up deleting it and took it as a lesson learned.
Here are some WordPress.org statistics to blow your mind:
- WordPress.org powers over 27% off all websites globally
- WordPress.org powers 14% of the top 100 websites worldwide
- WordPress.org plugins have over 1.7 billion downloads
- WordPress.org has been downloaded over 19.7 million times
- WordPress.org Blogs get over 409 million monthly views
Do you want me to keep going? I think you get the point. WordPress.org is the bee’s knees. That’s where you want to be.
That being said, how can you get started? Well here’s another benefit of SiteGround. If you used SiteGround as your hosting platform, you can install WordPress within the cPanel once you’re logged in.
It’s literally a couple clicks of a button using the built-in WordPress Installer.
Once WordPress is installed, you can now pick a theme. A theme is basically what gives your blog flavor. Based on the theme you pick, it will determine things such as the layout, default font, and overall feel of the website.
I like to break WordPress themes into 3 major categories:
- Free Theme (no coding experience)
- Paid Theme (no coding experience)
- Genesis Framework + Child Theme (coding experience required)
If you’re like me, you like the idea of free. Before deciding to go with a free theme though I would like to get you informed.
The free themes are wonderful if you’re running on a tight budget. The cost of buying hosting and a domain name can add up, so I totally understand.
That being said free themes are nice on the wallet but not so nice on the functionality, feel and features.
When you go with a free theme, there’s will be some missing bells and whistles that will drive you mad as you build your blog. Some of the themes may not be responsive (look pretty on mobile) as well.
Another pain point of free themes that while WordPress does audit them very carefully, the support plug for them can be pulled anytime. If the developers decide not to support the free theme going forward, there is nothing that can be done about it.
If you have issues and need help troubleshooting, you may get worse service because more time is being spent on paying customers.
These are things that you need to weigh into consideration.
That being said, if you decide to go this route, you can browse through some FREE WordPress themes right here.
This is where I recommend most bloggers to start. Most paid themes offer great support, more flexibility, and look much cleaner.
I started right here with a paid theme and this was the best of both worlds. By that I mean it was simple and easy to customize right out the box but wasn’t as complicated compared to the Genesis Framework (which we will talk about later in this blog).
Paid themes also have an amazing user interface and are responsive so that they look great on mobile. Remember that most users are on mobile devices these days so it’s very important to optimize your site for mobile.
I’d even go as far as saying mobile optimization is better than desktop optimization due to where the attention is in this internet driven society.
Another huge benefit is paid themes receive regular updates as required and the developers tend to provide exceptional support. It’s basically a win for everyone on all fronts except for your wallet.
Although paid themes are obviously not free, they may not be as expensive as you thought. You can find nice paid themes ranging from $40-$60.
Below are my absolute favorite places to purchase themes. I’ve had a lot of good results and highly recommend them.
- My Theme Shop – The themes here are geared more towards authority sites such as news and tech.
- Theme Forest – This is the giant all in one theme catalog. Just search your niche and poof! You get lots of beautiful themes. I love the WordPress Sale area as well. Definitely check there to see if you can snag any good deals.
- Elegant Themes – This will be my 3rd favorite place for themes. I really like how simple it is to use. It’s literally drag-and-drop your design. The problem I have with it is it’s a yearly plan. In my opinion, the ease of use isn’t worth paying cash every year for. For some, it might be though, and I won’t stop you or tell you it’s a bad idea. They offer amazingly smooth and crisp themes so you will enjoy it if you can afford that luxury.
Side note: I’ve heard “X theme” for WordPress is very good but I haven’t used it before. More recently though, I’ve been seeing complaints crop up about that theme becoming less user-friendly. That said, I cannot recommend that in good faith, but I don’t have experience using it.
Genesis Framework + Child Theme
So, what is the Genesis Framework + Child Theme combo?
Imagine owning an elegant mansion with 10 bedrooms 5 bathrooms with the 4-car garage. It sounds nice and gravy until you need start putting inexpensive decorative to match the beauty of your mansion. Don’t forget the hefty property tax too!
Ok ok ok, sorry I couldn’t come up with a better analogy. The Genesis framework + child theme combo isn’t THAT expensive or that stressful to work with.
The Genesis framework is basically a “super theme” that allows you to fully customize the look, feel, and design of your website. If you really want to look into a good explanation of the framework, it’s best to get it from the source themselves, https://www.studiopress.com/faqs/.
With that in mind, after installing the Genesis framework, you can then purchase a child theme. The child theme is the design template that sits on top of the Genesis framework so that you don’t have to code the design from scratch. You can browse through plenty of design templates here.
There are many pros to running the Genesis framework if that’s within your budget and experience.
- Heavily supported by developers.
- Best site load times due to incredible coding
- Relatively inexpensive
- Extremely customizable
- Awesome plugins available that are Genesis specific
My website that you’re reading this blog from is sitting on the Genesis framework and while it has been a bit of a learning curve, I don’t regret that decision at all!
Please keep this in mind this isn’t the friendliest plug and play option. This setup will require far more coding skills and a bit more cash up front because it’s so customizable. If you don’t have coding skills, it will cost you more money to customize because you will probably need to hire a freelancer to do the coding work for you. When you bring on a freelancer you will need to know how to create accounts and give them access to your site to make the changes you need.
Here is my conclusion.
Don’t get caught up in trying to design the perfect blogging website.
I had to fight the notion of wanting to create the perfect aesthetically pleasing website. Your site WILL have some imperfections. Certain content or pictures won’t be exactly where you want them, so on and so forth. You need to just get your blog up and running then, later on, you can work on perfecting it.
I highly recommend starting with a traditional paid theme (non-Genesis framework) because it gives you the best value between flexibility and ease of use.
5. Setting Up an Email System
For beginners, this might be a bit tricky. I’m not referring to setting up any ol Gmail account. This involves setting up an actual business email address that is @yourwebsitename.com.
You might be wondering, “do I really need an email system?” Well, if you plan on eventually monetizing your personal brand then the answer is yes. If you are just blogging for the sake of just blogging, then the answer is still yes, because you will be able to email individuals to come back to your blog whenever you publish new content.
Email is the lifeblood of a blog.
Email allows you to keep in content with all your visits. Imagine if you have 50 people provide you with their email because they LOVE your content. You can now email all 50 people directly simply by having a good email system.
What having an email system does:
- Communicate with subscribers without the use of social media
- Allows subscribers to get exclusive deals or access
- Allows you to create an email sequence for your business
- Promote new products to subscribers
- Keeps your contacts in one central location
- Subscribers can opt out at any time convenient for them
As you can tell email systems when blogging is a key element in helping you build and grow your personal brand. When you are ready to monetize, having that email list will have been the best decision you’ve ever made. So, what’s the best email system then?
Hands down, ConverKit is the best emailing system I’ve ever used.
I highly recommend using ConvertKit for your emailing system because it will make your life so much easier. I have tried other email systems, like MailChimp, but non-of them have worked as well as ConvertKit. The reason for that is because it was specifically designed for serious bloggers.
Things such as creating forms, opt-ins, and list management are almost too simple to do with ConvertKit! They also provide phenomenal support whenever you have questions.
Fun fact: The creator of ConvertKit is also named Nathan.
6. Start Blogging Away
Hopefully, you’re still with me because now comes the fun part! It’s time to get writing. I’ve noticed some people get so caught up on designing their website that they get burnt out by the time they reach this point. As I mentioned, avoid perfectionism, and focus on writing good content.
All that work designing your blog will do you no good if you don’t put up any blog articles.
If you’re completely new to blogging, you might be wondering what to blog about, how long your blog should be, or even how to find your inner voice.
For some, it really takes a lot of effort to find their true inner voice. The best advice I can give to those that are struggling is to just start writing. I know it sounds cliché but there that really is the trip.
Of course, as you begin writing you can look up tips on how to create awesome blogs, but don’t delve so deep that it paralyzes you from actually writing. Don’t get hung up on ideas of how you need to sound in your blog or try to replicate the articles you see on Forbes.
Here are some quick tips:
- Keep your audience in mind
- Be authentic and creative as possible
- Focus on providing value
- Put passion into your writing
- It doesn’t hurt to check what others are writing about in your space
- Remember this is your personal brand and no one else’s
I’m going to go off topic quick.
When it comes to structuring your website and blog content, I found helpful to have one primary topic and then create subtopics that one audience would enjoy. In this blog example, I have it listed under the “blogging” subtopic because some people reading this may not care about e-commerce or affiliate marketing.
If you are stuck on how to layout your blog structure, find people in the same space as you and see how they lay their format out. This will help you better visualize the direction you want to take with your structure. You can always ask in the free Facebook group for ideas too.
Back on topic now. The more content you put out, the better chances you have of attracting the audience you want as you build your personal brand, so just start writing! As you continue to write, you’ll see your blogging skills improve and others will enjoy the content you write. You don’t need to get it right on the very first try.
7. Get Your Blog Noticed
So, you’ve created your website, you’ve set up your email system, and you’ve posted a few blogs, yet all you hear are crickets. Your website is as dry as the Sahara Desert. Where are all the readers?!
Well, it’s time to solve the next piece to the puzzle. You now need to actually work on getting visitors to your website. There are two ways to do this. Free traffic and paid traffic.
Let’s go over some free traffic methods first.
There are many different ways you can get free organic traffic but keep in mind this will take longer to do vs paid traffic.
My favorite method is using Pinterest. Pinterest can get you free traffic for two main reasons. People use it as a search engine, and Pinterest doesn’t support video.
Because Pinterest is a search engine, you want to be the answer to their solution. When designing your pins, research what questions your audience is asking. An example would be if people are asking, “what are the best places to eat in Peru?”, your pin should be along the lines of “top 3 places to eat in Peru.” This will catch the attention of those searching that answer and just like that, people will be on your site reading the top 3 places to eat while in Peru.
Another benefit of using Pinterest is people on Pinterest are generally in the mindset to read content not watch videos. Pinterest doesn’t natively support videos yet and because many of the pins on Pinterest already link to a blog article or are info articles, that audience isn’t new to reading blog articles.
Here are a few other ways to organically get traffic to your blogs:
- Optimize keywords for large search engines such as Bing and Google
- Strategically share your valuable blogs on Reddit
- Share your blog posts on social media platforms such as Facebook
- Talk to people you meet or know in person about your (too many people underestimate this)
Now if you have a bit of cash laying around, you can get traffic to your blogs by running ads. You can start running ads to your blog as low as $5 a day on Facebook. Another effective way to run ads to your blog is to use the Google Adwords.
Facebook ads allow you to really target your key demographic by their interests, traits, marital status and so much more. It does take some trial and error to master but Facebook is a highly effective platform for running ads.
Google AdWords is another amazing platform for running ads on because… well everyone uses Google. The difference between Google ads and Facebook ads is Google targets keywords, not interests. To keep it simple, you type the key phrase or word that you want to on the top of Google search result and pay Google for every time someone clicks on the link. While it’s simple, the actual logistics are a bit more complex.
These are just two popular methods of running ads. There are tons of other ways to do this. No matter what ad platform you decide to go with always make sure to do your research and set a reasonable budget that you can sustain for at least a month or so.
8. Begin Monetizing
Now comes the final piece to building your personal brand by blogging, monetization. Some eagerly look forward to this step while others shy away from it because of not knowing how in the world to monetize their blog.
Two quick and simple ways to start monetizing your blog is to run ads on your page and also start using affiliate links or some form of affiliate market.
Turning on ads will generally yield the least amount of income. Let me explain why ads don’t pay much unless you have a lot of traffic going to your site. On average, the click-thru rates on ads are around 0.1%-0.3%. At a $0.30 per click, you would be making about a whopping $0.30 each day with 1000 visitors. On top of that, every time a user clicks on an ad, you would be sending them away from your blog. Nonetheless, this is a form a monetization; just not one I can recommend.
The second simplest way to start making an income is through affiliate marketing. I’m sure you’ve heard of this, but for those that haven’t, it’s referring to someone else’s product and splitting the profit with them. I like to refer individuals to the book Crushing It! by Gary Veynerchuck. That link would give me a small commission if you bought the book. Affiliate marking is one of the best ways to make money with your blog. You can start with Amazon if possible to get a feel for affiliate marketing since it is one of the most trusted e-commerce sites in the world.
There are various methods to monetize your blog, but they all full under 3 buckets:
- Sell Products
- Sell Services
- Sell Time
I highly recommend monetizing your blog with any of those three methods. You will get a much higher ROI because it will be a product that you own. Here’s a quick rundown of these three methods.
When it comes to selling products, the list is almost endless. You can sell digital products or physical products.
Digital products such as eBooks, courses, are a lot easier to scale simply for the fact that these products can be transferred electronically. For this reason alone,
I recommend selling digital products if possible. This doesn’t mean selling physical products are a bad idea. Physical products are amazing and if that’s what your audience wants, there’s no foul in being able to provide that.
There are many great platforms, tools, and services for you to start selling physical products with your personal brand.
- Shopify – My #1 recommended platform for creating an online store to sell products
- Alibaba – One of the best wholesale platforms for finding products that you can brand
- Teespring – A popular platform for print-on-demand apparel
Depending on your audience size, you may want to take a poll to see what product your audience wants. If you are thinking about selling t-shirts, for example, you can try coming up with a few different variations and then take a poll to see which design your audience like best. That way everyone’s happy.
Selling services is a great way to make an income as a blogger. You can scale this pretty well too. There are many types of services you can offer:
- Consulting service
- Group Memberships services
- Software Services
The downside to services is they require much more “up-keep.” For example, owning a software service will require regular patches, maintenance, and making sure that your software has exceptional uptime to keep your audience happy.
If you offer membership or consulting services you need to make sure you show up prepared. That said, I also believe these two services feel the most rewarding because you really get to work with your audience and help them with a very specific problem.
If you’re considering a consulting service, having an automated calendar for booking will be incredibly useful. I recommend using Acuity Scheduling because it’s very easy to integrate and the pricing is very fair.
Selling time is very vague. I couldn’t think of another name for this type of product, so give me a sec to explain what I mean by this.
When I say sell time, I am referring to leveraging your blog and expertise to get paid for events. This could involve being a speaker at large event, getting paid for being on interviews, or even podcast collaborations.
Selling your time plays a more active role in your blogging journey and requires you to be well established in your field so this might not be the ideal place to start if you’re new.
If you’re serious about selling your time, you need to start being proactive with your blog. Focus on using your blog to really build your personal brand to express your expertise. Then use social media platforms to start networking asap. It won’t happen overnight but you will be able to start generating an income following these simple principals.
Congrats! You made to the end. It’s ok to celebrate, but only if you promise to actually put this information to use. Reading this won’t do you any good if you don’t start.
You now know the process of starting your personal brand from scratch by just blogging your heart away. As you continue to build your personal brand you will want to branch out into social media more for additional exposure.
At this point, it’s off to the races! As always, make sure to join the free WiFi Mocha Facebook community if you already haven’t done so. I’m in there very often answering questions and sharing any new information that I get. We all love helping each other and it’s a great community!
Until next time,
Dream Big. Think Different.
Founder, WiFi Mocha
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