Are you just getting started in blogging and wondering where to begin?

It can be an intimidating and overwhelming place to be. In this post, I will outline the major steps you should take during your first year of blogging to set your blog up for success right off the bat. You can have a profitable blog in one year, but it will take a lot of hard work. Are you ready for it?

Download this free workbook to help you plan out and track each of the following steps as you go through your first year.

start a successful blog

I want to start by saying, if it doesn’t happen as quickly for you as you hoped, don’t give up. Never compare your progress to someone else’s progress. As long as you are moving forward, you are doing great. If you have a goal, stay focused on accomplishing that goal, and make sure each thing you do is intentional to move you towards that goal, you will be successful.

This post contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase a product through one of my links I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Ultimate Guide to Starting a Profitable Blog

Below you will find checklists, split up by time, so you can be strategic about your planning throughout the year. Follow along with your workbook as you work through each step. Download your free copy here!

Before Launching

If you haven’t yet launched your blog and have just started thinking through the details, than this is the perfect place to start!

I suggest using 1-3 months to get started. This may seem like a lot of time, but if you really plan everything out and allow yourself time to develop a good foundation, you will thank yourself later. (Something I wish I had done when I created my first site.)

  • Decide on Your Goals- write out what your purpose is for your blog and what your goals are. Every decision you make should align to accomplishing these goals and staying true to your focus.
  • Decide on Your Niche- Now that you know what you hope to accomplish, you can decide on your niche. One mistake many bloggers make is to have too many topics. This can be successful, however, if you want to gain a loyal following and be seen as an expert, you need to narrow your focus. Who is your ideal reader? Have a clear picture of exactly who your perfect audience is before you start writing.
  • Do market research, find out what problem you can solve/ what people are searching for- Get involved in a few Facebook groups where your ideal reader hangs out. Copy and paste questions being asked into a spreadsheet. Knowing exactly what your ideal reader is asking will help you create content, opt-ins, and future products to answer these questions.
  • Choose Your Domain Name- This doesn’t have to be super catchy. Instead, try to choose a name that tells your audience who you are and what you offer. If you are branding yourself, you may want to choose your name as your domain.
  • Choose Your Host- Read this post if you aren’t sure how to choose your host. This is one of the most important decisions you will make for your blogging business.
  • Branding- create a mood board using magazine clippings, photographs, or Pinterest. Decide on colors, mood, fonts, emotions, etc. that you want your brand to stand for.
  • Get Your Blog Set Up- You will want to have these pages to get you started; home page, start here page, about me page, blog page, disclaimers page, resources page, thank you page, and possibly a landing page if you already have an opt-in created. Read this post to help you come up with your first opt-in so you can build your email list from the start. 
  • Set up an email account– I highly recommend Convert Kit. It is so simple to use and the features are amazing. If you really want to create a business with your blog, invest in a great email service upfront. I made the mistake of starting with a free service because I was too afraid to spend the money, but I ended up having to switch every form over, which was a nightmare. 
  • Decide on your categories-(try to stick to 3-5)
  • Make of list of long tail keywords- 
  • Write Three Pillar posts-(1,000-3,000 words), with opt-ins- Create a great freebie that you can link to each post or create one per post if they are in different categories. Read here to learn more about creating the opt-ins that actually convert.
    • Create a landing page to get subscribers and start promoting your opt-ins (you can gain subscribers before your blog even launches. If you are using convertkit, set up a welcome email series to send to anyone who gets signed up before launch- send out emails getting them excited for your blog.
  • Write 4-5 other posts to link to- Having four or five posts, besides your pillar posts, already written will do two things for you. The first is, give you more time during your first few weeks to focus on other aspects of blogging than just creating content. You can publish one post per week for the next month or so and during that time you can use your extra time to do the thousand and one other things you will be doing. The second benefit of having these posts pre-written is that as you publish them, you will have posts to interlink to within your blog posts. Have a plan of where they will be linked for seamless integration.
  • Apply for a few affiliates- If you are serious about making income online, making sense of affiliate marketing will teach you everything you need to know to start making affiliate marketing. 
  • Create a Social Media account for any Platform you want to use (wherever your audience hangs out)- Use the same photo and name on each platform if possible
  • Create a Facebook group as well as your page- Create a group that will be a place for your ideal client to hang out. If you blog about motherhood, create a mom group, if you blog about photography, create a photography group, if you blog about fitness, create a group of fitness fanatics. Your group will be a place to get people interacting together and a place to do a little research to find out what your ideal client/reader is looking for.
  • Get your Pinterest account ready- My friend McKenzie Bean has a few great classes all about using Pinterest to skyrocket your traffic and your income. They are very affordable and straight forward. I would highly recommend taking a look. Click here to see what she offers. 

Time to Launch Your Blog

start a successful blog

Month One

  • Get your blog seen, use facebook, pinterest, and other social media.
  • Create several Pinterest images per post.
  • Write 4 new posts- 1 per week, add an opt-in and an affiliate. You don’t have to have a different opt-in for every post. If you have an amazing opt-in that fits with the post you wrote, then add that opt-in to your new post. I suggest having at least one high-converting opt-in per category so you can link an opt-in to every post where it makes sense. Read here for more information on creating stellar opt-ins. 
  • If you have any subscribers, even just your mom (my mom was my only subscriber for the first few months of my first blog!) send one email each week.

Month 2

  • Continue with your sharing schedule and share/interact with other bloggers- Start building relationships early. Set up small pods of people in your niche and share each other’s content.
  • Write 4-5 more posts- add opt-in that match and apply for a new affiliate or promote an existing affiliate. Ready to learn more about affiliate marketing? Learn from this millionaire blogger who makes half her income with affiliate sales each month. 
  • Create a Resource page for all of your freebies and affiliate products- promote this page along with all opt-ins on Pinterest (make at least one pin for each, just like you would a post).
  • Send a weekly email to subscribers- this can be your posts or exclusive content you send only to your list. Think of it as a small blog post. You can also promote an affiliate product you think your list would appreciate. Don’t do that too often or you will lose their trust quickly. For more about nurturing your list, sign up for my friend Meera’s class. She is an email marketing specialist and really knows her stuff.
  • Apply to group boards on Pinterest- Find a fellow blogger in a similar niche to you that you admire. Look through their boards for the group icon next tot he name of the board. It is an icon of a couple people. Go into that board and you will find directions for how to apply to be a part of the board. You will most likely need to email or message the board owner. Some boards are no longer accepting participants and others will never email you back. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep applying. 
  • Find and apply for new affiliates- What products do you love and know your readers would love?
  • Start making a relationship with 2-3 bigger bloggers in your niche- share their content, engage with them on social media, reply to their emails, let them know you are interested in what they do.

Month 3

  • Engage with your readers, followers, and others on Facebook- Answer questions when you can and serve your audience. Find out what pain points they have by listening to them in their social media groups.
  • Brainstorm product ideas that can solve these problems for your audience- Ebook, online course, printables, recipe book, templates, membership site…
  • Write 4 new blog posts, and seek out opportunities to guest post.
  • Look at your opt-ins and decide what is working and what isn’t- If needed, create a new freebie that will serve your reader and lead towards your future product.
  • Email your list weekly- ask them questions to help brainstorm for your product.
  • Look for guest posting opportunities and continue building relationships.
  • Look for others who would be a good fit to guest post on your blog for when you have a project to work on- You can ask in facebook groups.
  • Decide on goals for the next three quarters- Think about what your main goal is for your blog. Map out what you need to do to get to your big goal by the end of the year and use that to decide on goals for each quarter. If your big goal is to make $5,000/ month, then some ideas for each quarter might be; increasing following and traffic, building an email list, creating an ecourse or product, etc. The you will work on breaking those down into monthly goals. For example, if your quarter goal is to increase following and traffic, your monthly goals might be, guest posting on bigger blogs, creating Pinterest images, focusing on social media promotion and interaction. These are just examples. Make sure your goals will lead you to your desired end.

Month 4,5,&6

  • Break your quarter project into three monthly projects- if your goal is to launch an ebook, the first month you could do the outline and write the rough draft. Month two you could revise, edit, and find photos/images/graphs/etc. for your book. Month three you could format and launch your ebook.
  • Continue doing the main things- posting weekly (or less if you have a guest post), promoting on social media, email your list weekly- you can automate on convertkit to save you time.
  • Work on your project for the month- Make this your priority.
  • Keep your daily tasks aligned with your monthly goals and ultimate goals for your blog.
  • Reflect on goals and prepare for next quarter.

Month 7,8,&9

  • Break your quarter project into three monthly projects- Similar to the previous quarter, break up a big project into three smaller projects that you can focus on each month.
  • Continue doing the main things- posting weekly (or less if you have a guest post), promoting on social media, email your list weekly- you can automate on Convertkit to save you time.
  • Work on your project for the month- Make this your priority each month so you can meet your bigger goal by the end of the quarter.
  • Keep your daily tasks aligned with your monthly goals and ultimate goals for your blog.
  • Reflect on goals and prepare for next quarter.

Month 10,11,&12

Same as above, but with new goals for the quarter.

  • Break your quarter project into three monthly projects- Similar to the previous quarter, break up a big project into three smaller projects that you can focus on each month.
  • Continue doing the main things- posting weekly (or less if you have a guest post), promoting on social media, email your list weekly- you can automate on convertkit to save you time.
  • Work on your project for the month- Make this your priority each month so you can meet your bigger goal by the end of the quarter.
  • Keep your daily tasks aligned with your monthly goals and ultimate goals for your blog.
  • Reflect on goals and prepare for next year.

By the end of year one

  • Have at least one product
  • Build your email list as big as you can (but make sure they are the right readers) using convertkit or another email provider of your choice.
  • Automate your Pinterest and other social media posts if necessary- You can use Tailwind, Viral Tag, or hire a personal VA.
  • Have several affiliates throughout your posts that you can receive passive income for promoting.
  • Document everything so organization and taxes are easy 

Remember, these steps are intended to help you stay focused as you start your blog and power through your first year blogging. It is HARD work, but you can have a successful and profitable blog.

If you haven’t already, download your FREE workbook here to help you implement each step above.

start a successful blog

You can do this!

Jenna

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