How to Start a Blog in 2018: New Method That’s 20X Faster

How to Start a Blog in 2018: New Method That’s 20X Faster

What if I told you there’s a new way to start a blog that’s 20X faster, requires no software or technical expertise, and costs absolutely nothing up front?

You’d think there must be some hidden catch, right?

But there’s not. It’s totally real.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the newest method for how to start a blog, step-by-step, with screenshots and links to all the resources you need. Let’s jump in…

 

Should You Even Start a Blog in 2018?


With the dominance of video content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, you might think the whole idea of blogging is a little… out of date. Research tells a different story, though:

And it’s not just companies who are getting great results from blogging. It also works well for…

  • Nonfiction authors: Before giving you a book deal, publishers want to know you have a “platform” — an audience who will be happy to buy and promote your book. Blogging is one of the best ways to build that platform, and so it’s no coincidence many popular bloggers also become bestselling authors.
     
    A blog is also helpful when you’re self-publishing. By leveraging your existing audience, you can drive your book up the Amazon bestseller list, giving you the chance to grab the attention of readers who would’ve never heard of you otherwise.
     
  • Lifestyle entrepreneurs: If you enjoy writing, and you’re willing to be patient, you can use blogging to produce a passive income that gives you the lifestyle many people only dream of having. Top bloggers often travel the world, buy dream homes in the mountains or next to the ocean, and have nearly unlimited free time to spend with their family or doing whatever they choose.
     
    Where does the money come from? In the past, bloggers were limited to selling advertisements and sponsorships, but today you can make even more money from affiliate marketing, creating your own course, or charging ultra-high rates for coaching/consulting. For example, I once charged $1000 per hour for advice over the phone, only worked five hours a week, and had a six-month waiting list.
     
    That being said, it’s hard to do. You need the skill, persistence, and talent to attract hundreds of thousands or even millions of readers. If you can pull it off though, you may never have to worry about money again.
     
  • Mature businesses with millions of potential customers: This might be surprising, but not all businesses should start a blog. If you’re running a tech startup, small retail store, or manufacturing plant, for example, it’s probably not the best use of your time. On the other hand, it’s a great fit for mature businesses in markets with millions of potential customers.
     
    By “mature,” I’m referring to companies with a refined and effective product or service, existing revenue (at least six figures), and a deep understanding of their marketing metrics. In other words, you’re not really guessing about whether your company will succeed. You’re just looking for a way to grow.
     
    And ideally, you’re in a market with millions of potential customers. This one can be tricky because it’s not the size of the market that matters. Space rocket manufacturing is a multibillion-dollar industry, but I would guess there are a few hundred customers out there buying rockets. On the other hand, there are millions of small businesses, clothes shoppers, productivity geeks, and so on. For a blog to be effective, that’s the kind of market you want.

So, let’s say you fall into one of these categories. Should you just install WordPress and get cracking?

Actually… no.

The Old Way to Create a Blog (And Why It Doesn’t Work)


A few years ago, I would’ve said WordPress was the only game in town. It’s faster, more powerful, and more customizable than anything out there. That’s why they power 27% of the sites in the world.

The problem?

WordPress is also extremely complicated. Here’s a typical list of tasks for setting up a new site:

  1. Purchase web hosting
  2. Set up a new site through cPanel
  3. Create a new WordPress installation through Fantastico or one of their competitors
  4. Pick out and install your WordPress theme
  5. Customize your theme until it looks the way you want
  6. Install and configure caching plugins
  7. Install and configure backup plugins
  8. Add any extra functionality you need, such as social sharing, e-commerce, etc., by installing additional plug-ins

If you’re a techie, and you’ve done it all before, it’s not a big deal. You can do it all in a few hours.

But if you’re a beginner using WordPress for the first time?

It’s overwhelming, and once you see how much there is to learn, you’ll probably feel like quitting. If you do push forward, you can spend months or even years stuck in a technical quagmire, just learning how to do everything the right way.

Of course, you can always outsource it, but you don’t really know what you are doing, your chances of picking the wrong service provider is pretty high. You might get scammed, hacked, or overcharged.

And here’s the really disturbing question:

Even if you get your WordPress site set up the right way, what if you discover you chose the wrong market or nobody likes the content you are publishing?

It happens all the time. When I was a beginner, I went through three failed blogs before I created one that succeeded. Each time, I spent dozens of hours setting up WordPress, only to discover the blog was never going to work, and I had to start over. If you push forward and set up WordPress without testing your idea first, I pretty much guarantee the same thing will happen to you too.

The bottom line:

Putting it all together, I think setting up a WordPress site is the worst possible approach for a beginner. You’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Fortunately, after working with thousands of students, I’ve discovered a new method that is much, much easier, not to mention faster, and I’m going to outline the entire process for you here.

How to Start a Blog the Right Way (the New Method)


The driving principle behind this new method is simple:

Waste as little effort as possible.

If you’re familiar with the thinking behind The Lean Startup by Eric Reis, everything outlined here will intuitively make sense to you. If not, here’s the idea:

Innovation is messy. Anytime you create something new — regardless of whether it’s an app or book or blog — there’s a huge chance of getting it wrong and having to start over.

The problem with blogging?

Most people don’t know there’s a huge chance of failure, so they spend months or even years creating a blog that has zero chance of succeeding. Eventually, they realize where they went wrong, and they start over, but again, they invest months or even years into creating a second (or third or fourth) blog that doesn’t work.

And here’s the part that’s tough to swallow:

This kind of failure is inevitable. Whenever you’re doing anything new, you will make mistakes and have to start over. It doesn’t matter if you are smart, rich, or successful at many other things. The first time you launch a blog, you will fail. It’s pretty much guaranteed to happen.

The good news is, you can dramatically speed up the process. Instead of wasting months or years chasing a bad idea, you can find out if it’s going to work in weeks or even days. In fact, the process I’m outlining here often destroys a bad idea within minutes.

The result?

You waste WAY less time. Instead of banging your head against the wall for months or even years before you finally figure everything out, you can adapt quickly and get to the right idea within a matter of weeks or months. It’s at least 20X faster. Probably more like 100X.

So, let’s dive in:

#1. Make Sure Your Blog Is Actually Viable (Not All Are)

Important: The ideas in this section are subtle and hard to grasp. Reread it several times, and think about it carefully. We have tested it on thousands of students starting their blogs, and there’s no question it’s correct, but it’s easy to misinterpret these rules. When in doubt, consult an expert (like us).
 
It’s not fun to think about, but if there’s no chance in hell of your blog succeeding, wouldn’t you rather find out right now?

Well, sometimes you can.

One of the most damaging myths about blogging is the belief that you can start a successful blog targeting anyone, almost as if it’s a one-size-fits-all technology for getting “free traffic.” But it’s not true. The fact is, blogs are good at getting traffic when targeting specific kinds of audiences, and they are absolutely terrible when targeting others.

It’s also shockingly common to target the wrong audience. Of the thousands of students who come into our courses, more than 95% begin by targeting a poor or nonexistent audience that will never be able to support a successful blog, no matter how much time they put into it, and we have to use this checklist to push them in the right direction.

Surprising, right? You probably had no idea there was such a thing as a “bad audience,” but it’s true.

Here are some examples:

  • Men suffering from erectile dysfunction
  • Business executives
  • Parents
  • People struggling with depression
  • Women who are planning their wedding
  • Guys struggling to understand masculinity
  • Freelancers
  • Breeders of Dobermans
 
To be clear, I’m not saying you can’t target these audiences. I’m saying blogging is an inefficient way of attracting them. You’re better off using advertising, public relations, attending conferences, etc.

Of course, the obvious question is, “Why?” Why is it that some audiences are well-suited to blogs and others aren’t?

Let’s step through the criteria, and I believe it will become more clear. A good audience…

  • Self-identifies (“That’s me!”). Recent scientific research suggests that some boys who are raised by single mothers struggle to understand their own masculinity. The problem is, they don’t think of themselves that way. If you were to ask a group of men, “How many of you have trouble understanding your masculinity?” no one would raise their hands.
     
    The solution: target the symptom. Ask, “How many of you get friend-zoned by girls, and you can’t figure out why?” A bunch of hands would go up on that one. In other words, you must describe your audience using the words they use to describe themselves. In almost all cases, you’ll describe the symptoms, not the actual cause.
     
  • Is happy to be grouped together. You would think freelancers would be a viable audience, right? After all, there are so many successful sites that seem to target them! Again though, it’s misleading, because there are many types of freelancers: photographers, copywriters, designers, and so on. They all share similar perspectives (getting and managing clients, etc.), but if you put them in a room together, they would naturally sort themselves by field. For this reason, blogs about a particular type of freelancing are always more successful than blogs targeting freelancers in general.
     
  • Includes a wide continuum of experience. In every market, the most successful blogs are the ones with a lot of beginners and relatively few experts. For example, there are millions of people thinking about starting a software company, but there are relatively few billionaire founders. However, if you target an audience like “business executives,” you are narrowing the continuum of experience to new executives and experienced ones, or perhaps middle managers and CEOs. In either case, it’s fatal to the blog, because the most rabid audience for blog content is always the beginner (in this case, someone who wants to become an executive someday).
     
  • Shares the same perspective. For example, both mothers and fathers fall under the category of “parents,” but they generally have different perspectives on what being a parent means. For that matter, a parent of a toddler and the parent of a teenager will also have different perspectives. Therefore, the audience of “parents” should be subdivided before it can become viable. For instance, “middle-class mothers of toddlers” might be a good audience to target, because their perspectives are relatively similar.
     
  • Talks with each other on social media. Erectile dysfunction is a multibillion-dollar market with millions of men who are desperate for help, and yet you’ll never see a popular blog about it. Why? Because men don’t talk with other men on social media about erectile dysfunction. If you started a blog on the topic, you wouldn’t get any traffic from Facebook, for example, and that would make it very difficult for it to survive.
     
  • Wants to learn. With millions of people suffering from depression, you would think a blog about it would be wildly popular, but there’s not one, and here’s why: for the most part, people with depression have no desire to read about depression on a regular basis, probably because it makes them depressed! On the other hand, a blog for families of people suffering from depression would probably be quite popular, because they have a deep and ongoing desire to help their family member.
     
  • Has an ongoing interest. At any given time, there are millions of women who recently got engaged and are planning their wedding, and yet there are no big blogs for them. Why? Because they are only interested in planning their wedding until they actually have the wedding! As a result, this particular market has a lot of “churn” — people going out and new people coming in — and the limited window of opportunity makes it unsuitable for blogging.
     
  • Consists of millions of people. Occasionally, you’ll find an audience that passes all the other tests, but it’s so small in number it can’t support a blog. A good example is breeders of Dobermans. You could easily start a blog for them, and you would probably have a small following of loyal readers, but it’s unlikely the audience would ever grow large enough to make running the blog worthwhile. For a truly effective blog, you need a potential audience consisting of millions of people. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.

Interesting, right? And perhaps a bit unsettling?

The good news is, a rule disqualifying a bad audience usually suggests the adjustment you need to make. For example, the audience of “parents” was disqualified by the rule that a good audience must “share the same perspective,” but by subdividing the audience down to “middle-class mothers of toddlers,” we were able to find a viable audience.

Sometimes though, you can’t make a topic workable, no matter what you do. In those cases, look at the bright side: you just saved a lot of effort by finding out now rather than after years of trying.

But what if your idea for a blog is indeed viable? Well then, it’s time to do a little good old-fashioned espionage!

#2. Spy on Popular Blogs to See What’s Working

Thankfully, this next step is a lot less painful than the first one. It’s also much easier to explain.

Once you’ve verified your blog has potential, you need to study the blogs your audience already reads.

For instance, let’s say you want to start a blog for new homeowners. You’ll teach them how to make simple repairs themselves, maximize the value of their home, save money on their mortgage, and so on.

After going through the checklist above, you discover it meets all the criteria, and — alakazam, alakazoo — you have a workable blog topic. What’s next?

Well, the average new homeowner is in their 30s. Many are also parents. Chances are, a lot of them also have at least a passing interest in personal finance. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to afford a home.

So, here’s what you do: study the top personal finance and parenting blogs. In particular, you need to uncover their most popular content and learn from the patterns you see.

Here’s how:

  1. Use Alltop to identify the most popular blogs in your space. I recommend sorting through several of the subcategories, collecting a list of 20-50 popular blogs you think your audience might be reading. Here’s what I mean…
     

    Use Alltop to identify popular blogs in your space
  2. Plug the domain names for those blogs into Buzzsumo to find their most shared content. In particular, pay attention to Facebook shares, because it’s driving the most traffic in almost every space right now.
     

    Buzzsumo - What's Most Popular
  3. Look for patterns that might give you a clue into what kind of content your audience might like. Focus on the headlines, but also click through on any posts that grab your attention and read the whole post. You might even want to read the comments because they can give you insights as well.
     

    Buzzsumo - FB Engagement
  4. Use a tool like Evernote or Google Drive to keep a list of headline ideas. Write down any headlines that occur to you while doing your research.

When you finish, you’ll have a list of ideas for blog posts backed by evidence of popularity. While nothing is guaranteed in life, the success of these posts will be far better than anything you might dream up in the shower and decide to write about. As a result, you should have a much easier time outpacing your competitors.

But it’s still worth testing a few of them, just to make sure…

Test Your Ideas on Medium (Not WordPress!)

At this point, you might be tempted to grab a hosting account, install WordPress, and start blogging your heart out, but don’t.

Yes, you’ve done some cool research. Yes, your ideas for blog posts are far more likely to succeed. Yes, you’re way ahead of most beginning bloggers.

But I hate to break it to ya…

There’s an excellent chance you analyzed all those popular posts from other blogs your audience reads and came to all the wrong conclusions. Before going through all the effort of creating a new blog, I recommend testing your ideas on perhaps the coolest blogging platform out there right now:

Medium.

If you’ve never heard of it, Medium is the brainchild of Ev Williams, the geeky and brilliant co-founder of Twitter. He created it to become the largest, easiest to use blogging platform in the world, and he’s managed to attract over 30 million monthly readers, as well as celebrity writers like Matthew McConnaughhay and James Altucher.

And here’s the really cool part: you can write on Medium and get the chance to have your writing exposed to its 30 million readers, free of charge. Here’s how:

  1. Register for a free account. When you visit the site, you might notice banners inviting you to become a premium member. There’s no doubt it gives you access to some excellent content as a reader, but as a writer, it’s by no means necessary to test your ideas. The free account gives you access to all the writing tools, so register for that.
     

    Join Medium

  2. Write a post based on one of the headlines gleaned from your research. Using Medium’s excellent editor, you can have a stylish post put together within a few hours.
     

    Medium Post Editor

  3. Make sure you choose the appropriate interests. Anyone who subscribes to that interest will have a much higher chance of noticing the post.
     

    Medium - Select Interests

  4. Conduct a miniature outreach campaign to the blogs you studied in the previous step. By emailing them and asking them to share your post, not only do you have a chance to start building your audience, but it’s an excellent way to validate your approach. If influencers are willing to share your content, there’s a good chance you’re on the right track. I’d recommend emailing 10-20 of them.
     
    Click here to read our extensive post on outreach.

Now, here’s the big question:

How do you know you’re ready to switch over to WordPress?

Should you target a certain number of claps? Shares? Comments?

Actually, none of the above. In my opinion, none of those really mean much.

You’re much better off paying attention to your outreach success rate. You see, influencers are an excellent judge of content. If you can convince 20% of the blogs you email to share your post, and you can hit at least 20% on three different posts, I believe you’re ready to start your own blog.

If your outreach success rate hits 20%, there’s also an excellent chance at least one of your posts will end up featured on Medium, either on one of the interests or maybe even the front page, driving thousands upon thousands of new readers to your post. Again, not only will that help you build your audience, but it’s an excellent indication you’re on the right track, and it’s time to branch off on your own.

Note: If you’re familiar with the Lean Startup, the approach we’re following here is similar to the idea of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Instead of creating a product though, you are creating the minimum amount of content necessary to test your post ideas.

Get a Clear (Not Clever!) Domain Name

So, lots of influencers are sharing your post on Medium, and you’re itching to crank up your own site and snag some of that traffic?

Cool. Let’s just take it one step at a time, and the first step is getting a clear domain name.

Put yourselves in the shoes of the visitor. You’re browsing the web, and you see a headline for a blog post that catches your attention. Maybe a friend on Facebook shared it with you, maybe it came up on a Google search, or maybe it’s just a link in another article you’re reading. Regardless, you click the link, and consciously or not, you’re asking yourself a single question as you browse through it…

“Is this for me?“

Within a few seconds, you have to decide whether to keep reading the post or move on to something else, and the only way you’ll stay is if it’s relevant to you. Not just the post, either. When you’re deciding, you’ll take in the design of the page, other post headlines, and, yes, the domain name.

For example, consider Entrepreneur.com. Is there any doubt who the site is for? Entrepreneurs, of course!

How about MakeaLivingWriting.com? Obviously, it’s for people who want to make a living as a writer.

Neither names are clever, but they help you decide to stay or go by clearly articulating who they are helping. That’s what a good domain name does.

Of course, all the great domain names are taken, right?

Not necessarily. Here are three different methods for finding the perfect domain name for your site:

  • Name the audience. The simplest way to get a clear domain name is to call out the audience in the domain itself. Examples: SmartBlogger.com, CouchPotato.com, AFineParent.com
  • Name the topic. If your blog focuses on a specific topic, try finding a domain name that describes it in clear, concise language. Examples: The ArtofManliness.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com, PaleoHacks.com
  • Name the benefit. Why should people stick around? If you have a good answer, sometimes you can turn it into a domain name that really stands out. Examples: MakeALivingWriting.com, BiggerPockets.com, BeABetterBlogger.com

My suggestion:

Use these three strategies to make a list of 10-20 domain names you’d be happy having. You can write them out in a word processor, or if you want to get fancy, you can use a tool like NameStation to generate a lot of ideas at once.

Namestation

Once you’re finished brainstorming, head over to a site like NameCheap to see if they are available. Click “Bulk Search” in the search box and paste in your domain names to check them all at once.

Namecheap Bulk Check

Sometimes you get lucky, and one of your favorites is available. If not, you either have to head back to the drawing board for another brainstorming session, or you can go to a premium domain name marketplace like Sedo.

Either way, one word of advice:

Don’t get hung up on your domain name. While it’s certainly helpful to have a good one, there are thousands of hugely popular sites with terrible domain names no one understands.

In other words, it’s not really a “make or break” factor for your site. Give yourself a few days or maybe a week to brainstorm ideas, and then make a decision, because once you have your domain name, you are ready to…

Switch Over to WordPress

You knew we had to run into some technical stuff sooner or later, right?

Well, here it is. There’s no code, complicated software to install or anything like that, but there are a lot of little steps you need to follow in exactly the right order.

It’s not too bad, though, I promise. You can do everything here in about an hour, and I have step-by-step guides to walk you through every little detail.

Let’s get started…

  1. Choose a web host. If you’re not familiar with the term, a “web host” is kind of like a warehouse for websites on the Internet. You pay one a small fee to keep your website on the Internet, handle all your visitors, back up your website, and so on. There are a gazillion different hosts out there, but the one we recommend and use ourselves is SiteGround. Click here to get a 60% off discount (affiliate link).
     

    Siteground WordPress Hosting
  2. Install WordPress. Once you have your account set up, you can use their built-in tools to install WordPress for you. It’s super easy. Here’s a video that walks you through all the steps:
     

  3. Migrate your posts from Medium to WordPress. Thankfully, Medium makes it relatively easy to export your posts, but you do have to jump through a few hoops importing them into WordPress. Click here to learn how.
     
    When you finish, all the content will have switched over, and you’ll see all the posts on your own site, but that doesn’t mean you’ve finished. While WordPress works exceptionally well out-of-the-box, it still needs a little tweaking. Let’s talk about how to do that next.

Set Up WordPress the Right Way

The great thing about having a self-hosted WordPress site is you’re in total control. You can change how it looks, what functionality it has, improve its performance, and almost anything else you can imagine.

The problem?

Complete control also comes at a cost: complexity. There are thousands upon thousands of themes and hundreds of thousands of plug-ins to choose from, and you can easily lose weeks or even months of your life wading through them all and trying to figure out what’s best for you.

So, I’m going to take a minimalist approach here. Rather than giving you a huge list of things to do, I’m reducing it down to the absolute minimum, and I’ll even recommend some specific themes and plug-ins. Before we begin though, let me be clear about one thing:

Your content matters more than anything else.

You can have a site that’s ugly, clunky, and slow, but if you have great content, you’ll still get a lot of traffic. Not the opposite, though. You can have the most beautiful, user-friendly website online, but if the content sucks, nobody will give a damn about you.

So, don’t allow yourself to get lost in these details. Focus on making your website functional, and then you can always come back and make it unique or beautiful later.

That said, here are some different options to consider:

The Simplest Option: Elegant Themes

Cost: $89 per Year

You might wince a little at the annual price, but the advantage of Elegant Themes is they give you everything you need in one package:

  • Divi, the most popular WordPress theme on the market
  • A built-in page builder that can design anything you can imagine
  • Monarch, a social sharing plug-in that’s customizable and looks great
  • Bloom, a simple but functional app for building your email list
  • Regular updates and support, making it easy to stay current
 
Now, is every piece of it the best?

No. In fact, I don’t think they are the best in any single category.

But the combination of everything put together makes it far easier to get started. The design is also top-notch. That’s why they’ve become the most popular theme company on the market with over 400,000 paying customers.

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for a simple, stable solution that will last you for years and doesn’t require a “tech guy” to get up and running, Elegant Themes is the way to go.

The Free Option: A Hodgepodge of Stuff

Cost: Zero

So… what if you can’t really afford to spend any money on your blog? What should you do then?

The answer:

Cobble together a hodgepodge of free stuff into a workable site.

Here’s what I would do:

  • For your WordPress theme, install the free version of Astra
  • For your page builder, check out the free version of Elementor
  • For social sharing, go with the free version of Sumo
  • For building your email list, also go with the free version of Sumo
 
The downside?

Sumo will only last until you hit 500 subscribers, and then you have to either switch to something else or start paying a rather high monthly fee to stay with them. You also have to update everything separately, and you’ll have far less support if anything breaks.

To me, those are some pretty big downsides, and I really wouldn’t recommend it, but sometimes you don’t have any other choice. If that’s the case, give it a try.

A Quick Word about Caching

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to install a caching plug-in before you start getting too much traffic (100+ visitors per day). The two most popular options are plug-ins called WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.

If you’re looking for simplicity, I recommend WP Super Cache. You can install it, and you’re done. Here’s a video where a guy gets everything set up in three minutes:

Later, when you’re getting 10,000+ visitors per month, you might think about getting a tech guy who really knows the ins and outs of either plug-in to configure it for you. It really helps, but it’s not worth the trouble or expense for a new blog.

Important: If you end up going with Siteground (affiliate link), as I recommended above, they have their own caching plug-in, and it only takes about a minute to set up. Here’s a tutorial that walks you through it.

Grow to $1,000 per Month (And Beyond)

In the immortal words of Harry Connick Junior…

Up to this point, you’ve published posts on Medium until it’s clear people love what you write, you switched over to your self-hosted WordPress site, and now you are up and ready for the world. So, here’s the big question:

When does the money start rolling in? After all, that’s the point of all this, right?

Well… good news and bad news.

The good news is you’ve done the hard part. By far, the hardest part of building a popular blog is writing posts other people enjoy reading. Nothing else even comes close.

The bad news?

That’s just the beginning.

Now that your blog is up and running, you have to learn the ins and outs of getting traffic, building your email list, and monetizing your site. Even if you have top-notch writing skills, it’ll still take you at least 3-6 months to figure all that out.

But think about it this way…

Nothing worth doing is quick or easy.

Personally, I was a slow learner, and it took me three years to reach $1,000 a month. That’s a long time, right? Well, two years after that, we crossed $100,000 per month, and we’ve never looked back.

The point:

Getting started is the hardest part. It might take you a few months or even a few years to build up momentum. And you might feel a little dumb for investing so much time to it, but then that momentum builds and builds and builds, and you wake up one morning to the stupefying yet delicious realization that you’ll never have to worry about money again.

That’s what happened to me. Might happen to you too.

At the end of the day though, there’s only one way to find out:

Get started and see what happens.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is the CEO of Smart Blogger. Check out his new blog Unstoppable and read the launch post that went viral: 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face.
 

78 Comments

  1. Sneha
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 00:14:40

    Hii John, I’m a big fan of your writing. I’m planning to jump into blogging. And, this post is really going to help me. Thanks a lot.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:32:47

      Most welcome. 🙂

      Reply

    • Jon Porta
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 04:14:02

      Same with me.

      How i wish i had seen this before I started my first blog in 2014… it could have been easier for me.

      But all the same, cos some of the shared tips, I used them often and will add up the rest.

      This money must be made in more fold.

      Thanks so much Jon ( namesake) for the heads up.

      Reply

  2. deep
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 01:20:34

    Hi John,
    this is awesome article. you have explained everything. thank you for this awesome information.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:33:26

      I hope it helps!

      Reply

  3. Bradley
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 01:38:12

    Wow, really an insightful article! Thanks for all the tips. I already started my own hosted word press site and ain’t getting many visitors now. If i had discover this article earlier, i would have starts from medium first!

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:34:32

      It’s never too late. If I were you, I would start tinkering with Medium now.

      Reply

  4. Camillus Akpan
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 08:29:11

    Jon, this is incredible. The way you present your ideas so clearly, such that the reader has no more questions to ask after reading, this is a skill I must learn. Thanks a lot for being so plain and generous.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:35:17

      That’s quite a compliment! Thank you.

      Reply

  5. Anita Morris
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 09:52:58

    My biggest problem (other than than my site being wiped out by malware) is I can’t identify my audience. What benefit is there to highly autobiographical art? And equally autobiographical writing.

    Reply

    • Anita Morris
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:22:52

      That should be “autiobiographical abstract art”.

      Reply

      • Anthony Metivier
        Jan 11, 2018 @ 20:53:03

        Anita, I follow quite a few Youtube channels and blogs by painters and artists and they demonstrate their knowledge and discuss their intuition as they go along.

        If you really think through what Jon is suggesting and are willing to laser focus on what aspect of art, (like pastels or acrylic) with some keyword research, you can surely gather an audience around that and make the artist’s intuition and its development something people can learn to develop.

        It really is just a matter of figuring out what people need and then figuring out how to make your solutions clear to them. Even the process of coming up with abstract art and developing this skill has some very concrete steps.

        Once you have your core audience, you can wax messianic about all kinds of topics. And all the evidence in the world that artists are doing this wonderfully is all over the net.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:36:13

      That’s not a good topic. It fails several of the criteria above.

      Reply

      • Anita Morris
        Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:42:56

        The writing I can change, the art I can’t. How do I link art to an audience?

      • Jon Morrow
        Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:58:10

        First, define what you mean by art. Do you mean painting, writing, sculpture, dance, etc.?

        The answer can’t be “All of the above.” You have to choose one, because the audience for each one is separate.

        Next, think about the people who are already interested in that type of art. For instance, if you’re talking about painting, it’s hobbyist painters, interior designers, etc.

      • Anita Morris
        Jan 11, 2018 @ 12:33:43

        I paint with more intuition than design. I was given several unhelpful messages about art growing up and this is my way around them.

        I’ve spent seven years working on my personal style so other than evolution my art can’t change.

  6. Isaac
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:37:04

    Amazing writing and great information from you John… Keep it up.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 10:58:36

      Thanks Isaac.

      Reply

  7. Jewe Eliese
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 11:13:28

    Hello! This is amazing info that I’m sharing around. I love Medium and the way you use it is perfect. Great work as always, Jon.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 13:22:01

      Thanks Jewe!

      Reply

  8. Keri
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 11:17:28

    You have a knack for combining hope and honesty, Jon.
    I’ll start with my biggest take aways.
    Focus on symptoms, not causes!
    Consider the overlap of topics between popular blogs and Medium publications.

    Would love to see a followup post on common problems for people blogging/ writing on Medium, ie.
    criteria for becoming a contributor on an ideal, top publication, connecting with readers.
    Thanks for everything you do for those of us striving to grow an online audience via blogging.
    ~Keri

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 13:22:39

      Yep, those are good ideas. Thanks Keri.

      Reply

  9. MaryAnn Shank
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 11:46:29

    Great ideas, Jon! I had not heard of Medium, but I’m on my way to try it out Thank you for giving us all so much. Sincerely, thank you.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 13:23:29

      Most welcome.

      Reply

  10. Asa Henderson
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 12:27:16

    My audience is literally in your list of bad audiences (teenage boys trying to figure out what it means to be a man). I guess I need to go to my audience and see how THEY define the problem, not how I define it.

    Thanks for the great ideas, as always!

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 13:24:29

      Uh oh! I’m sure it’s a painful realization, but yep, you’ll make much better progress approaching it from their perspective.

      Reply

  11. Zeyana
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 13:28:40

    Thanks for the updated method Jon! I’ve recently joined SBO and I’ve been considering posting on Medium alongside guest posting.
    How would you suggest incorporating using Medium into the guest posting strategy?

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 15:51:40

      I would start with Medium, and then switch over to guest posting once you start to have success.

      Reply

  12. Terumi Davis
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 17:54:39

    Hi Jon, thank you so much for this very valuable post! I also am unfamiliar with Medium and your detailed instructions is very much appreciated. Looking forward to learning all the helpful tips you will be posting throughout the year.

    Reply

  13. Ankit singh
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 21:36:48

    Once again great post jon ,I have been confused from a long time about blogging and I am not getting any kind of idea ,your post help me a lot.

    Reply

  14. Dunstan Stober
    Jan 11, 2018 @ 22:37:47

    Comprehensive, insightful and honesty.

    This post feels like a ton of lectures about blogging distilled into one brilliant summary.

    Thanks Jon, for sharing, what I think are, the most important tips, tricks and tools of the trade.

    I fall into the category of those looking to restart a blog. Lessons learned.

    Thanks and all the best for 2018 to you and the audience Smartblogger.

    Reply

    • Melody
      Jan 11, 2018 @ 23:55:37

      Same with me,I also fall in the category of those looking forward to restart a blog.I wish i had known all these before starting a blog.

      Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:33:43

      Most welcome, I hope it helps!

      Reply

  15. BellyBytes
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 01:19:19

    Hello! I’ve been blogging for 10 years now and am a colossal failure. It’s taken me years to come up to 600 followers and I’ve taken free advice from many people, paid advice from some others too but still haven’t figured things out…… Will try one last time to follow your steps one at a time and let you know if this works.

    Reply

    • Haruna Fujita
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 04:48:19

      Wow 10 years! You’re absolutely right, you can’t give up now. I’m REALLY sure you learned a lot in those 10 years of blogging. Try to reflect and write down everything you’ve learned, what works and what doesn’t and it’s also important to narrow down your niche. 10 years is totally invaluable but maybe you were doing something that wasn’t hitting off. And if you’ve got a bit of cash, why not try signing up for blogging courses to help you a bit? I’m a former student from Jon’s SBO Class and I learn TONS. You’d learn everything from writing headlines to earning and building authority. I think you should go give it a try.

      Shoutout to Jon hahaha He just shot down my idea of building a blog for depressed people. In fact, I email him and Marsha about this and they said the same thing to me lol. But great post Jon 🙂 Really lots to learn from you. I’ve started a mini “instablog” for now to “test the waters” and I still reap from what you taught me. Just glad he stopped nagging us to call him “His Royal Awesomeness” in 2018 😉

      unstoppable.me ROCKS.

      Reply

      • BellyBytes
        Jan 12, 2018 @ 20:40:09

        I am scared to invest money because I’ve already spent a great deal and got nothing in return. I now only want to do things that are doable and for free. ( sorry for sounding so cheap but that’s the truth)

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:35:15

      I understand that feeling. It took me three years to figure things out, and part of it was just learning which people to pay attention to and which people to ignore. Sadly, there are a lot of folks out there giving bad advice.

      Reply

      • BellyBytes
        Jan 12, 2018 @ 20:38:17

        Thanks so now should I re-start on Medium focusing on just one topic? Mine is a personal blog where I talk about travel, food and lifestyle…. almost journalling but not quite. Also I am a senior citizen but not many older women in my country are online or net savvy…..any ideas on how I can target my audience?

    • Matt
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 11:19:24

      Your problem might be that you haven’t properly defined your topic/audience. Your blog seems to be about a number of things, targeted to a lot of people. It’s hard to get a lot traffic doing that.

      Reply

      • BellyBytes
        Jan 12, 2018 @ 20:39:11

        Thanks I will try and focus on a target audience. But I find many blogs like mine which are general and still have a large audience….

  16. Try Agung
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 01:42:08

    Wish I can read this advice a few years ago when I start to blogging for the first time 🙂

    Best advice I ever read,
    thank you, Jon

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:36:22

      Thanks Try! I hope it helps.

      Reply

  17. Moss Clement
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 02:42:05

    Hi Jon,

    Great article full of insightful information. It is no surprise that I subscribed to your newsletter.
    When I saw this article in my inbox late last night, I decided to read it right away, and I’m glad I did.

    Honestly, I started with Medium where just after 3 post on the platform, I was contacted by the editor of a publication to become a writer for his publication. I accepted and write a couple posts to him.

    Then other publications accepted my articles and began publishing them.
    Just 2 months ago I decided to launch my new WordPress blog. I haven’t started monetizing, but with the insight from this article, I need to start now.

    Thanks for sharing Jon!

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:40:06

      That sounds like a great start. Congrats!

      Reply

  18. Anita Morris
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 03:53:59

    Different question: Is it worth posting on medium when you already have a wordpress set up?

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:40:51

      Yes, because your posts can get featured, and you get exposure.

      Reply

      • Anita Morris
        Jan 12, 2018 @ 11:15:41

        Thanks. I have an account I just need to use it.

  19. Rewari
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 06:10:40

    Great points! You explained blogging about as well as anyone that I have read thus far. Good stuff and Thanks!

    Reply

  20. Laura
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 07:48:20

    Jon, being on your newsletter list consistently proves to be one of the smartest decisions my blogging butt ever made. Thanks again for your brilliance and generosity. You deliver with actionable, important and up-to-date information about this sometimes very frustrating world of blogging every single time. And having been your workshop student a couple times now, same goes for those, but like a million times over. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:41:29

      That’s a great complement. Thank you!

      Reply

  21. Nicholas Zachary
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 11:16:19

    Killer post man, thank you.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 12:38:57

      Of course! Glad you liked it.

      Reply

  22. Matt
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 11:26:53

    In the post, you mentioned several topics that are doomed to failure as a blog. Two of them caught my attention – “women who are planning their wedding” and “guys struggling to understand masculinity.” I’m sure you’ve heard of “The Knot,” which gets over 12 million visitors a month (according to SimilarWeb). And later in the post, you casually mention The Art of Manliness, which get 9 million visitors a month. Those sound like pretty successful numbers. So what am I missing?

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 12, 2018 @ 12:38:33

      Yeah, good question. I’ve actually been wondering when someone would bring that up.

      The Knot isn’t really a blog. They do have some content, but my guess is it’s driven far more by the collection of tools they offer, the photos, and so on.

      The point: I’m not saying the audience can’t work. I’m saying it can’t work for blogging.

      The Art of Manliness is a great example of the point I made about self identification. It targets men who take pride in being manly. It probably seems like an insignificant difference, but it’s not. His branding aligns with the perception men have of themselves.

      Reply

  23. Peter Fritz
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 17:16:24

    Jon, this is enormously valuable, thank you. I’ve written every week for two years. This article encouraged me to revisit my hypothesis from a fresh perspective and ask myself some tough questions. Thank you so much.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 14, 2018 @ 23:02:16

      Wonderful! I hope it’s been helpful to you, Peter.

      Reply

  24. Brad L
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 17:50:11

    Wow excellent write up! I appreciate your information on ‘spying on others’ and following that up with Medium first…not WordPress. Totally realizing content marketing is the way to go these days, I have started writing my own blog articles for my business site. Guest blogging is the next step.

    I have you all bookmarked and will be a frequent visitor as there is a plethora of great articles here…thanks!

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 14, 2018 @ 23:01:48

      Most welcome, Brad!

      Reply

  25. Kristel Miley
    Jan 12, 2018 @ 20:03:29

    This was by far one of the best articles I have read about blogging. Ever. You didn’t simply give out-in-the-air advice that sounded good–you gave links and recommended sites (even free ones!) that are actually practical and helpful. Thank you for taking the time to share this – I have bookmarked this page and will be coming back to it often!

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 14, 2018 @ 23:01:22

      Most welcome! I hope it’s useful to you.

      Reply

  26. Yasar Ali
    Jan 13, 2018 @ 00:52:41

    Starting a blog was one of the worst issues to me back in 2014 when I had no payment method to choose but Thanks to our local hosting provider that helped me give domain name & hosting.

    Now I have started blogging and it’s been 3 years I’m doing it with great Passion.

    Here’re a few tools that helped me in Blogging:
    1. Payoneer (Best Online Payments Transfer Solution)
    2. HosterPk (Local Hosting Provider in PK)
    3. AspirePro – Genesis Framework
    4. Yoast SEO (SEO Toolkit for WP)
    5. UpdraftPlus (Backup Solution)
    6. Online Mentors & resources like SmartBlogger etc.

    BTW, Thanks a lot for the awesome guide.

    Reply

  27. uthman saheed
    Jan 13, 2018 @ 13:24:44

    On a daily basis, people rush in to create blog and rushed out due to lack of proper testing and analysis. Thanks for this wonderful post

    Reply

  28. DNN
    Jan 13, 2018 @ 14:57:44

    To succeed in this line of work, one has to want to do this No money will be earned for quite a good while. If you love to write and build relationships online with people and companies, this is definitely it for you.

    Reply

  29. Himanshu Gupta
    Jan 13, 2018 @ 15:19:33

    Great Post.

    Perfect start to 2017 🙂

    Really motivated me to do something big this year 😀

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 14, 2018 @ 23:00:45

      Excellent!

      Reply

  30. Hussien
    Jan 13, 2018 @ 15:28:47

    Hi Jon

    I like your blog post. It’s very informative and interesting!
    Just one question regarding to publish my post in Medium before become live is it considered a duplicate content when I do publish in my site?

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 14, 2018 @ 23:00:29

      The idea is to move your posts from Medium to WordPress. That way, there’s no concern about duplicate content. They only exist in one place.

      Reply

      • Anita Morris
        Jan 15, 2018 @ 01:02:57

        What about those of us who already pay for hosting etc? Should we cancel those accounts?

  31. Nirodha Abayalath
    Jan 14, 2018 @ 01:13:15

    This article is absolutely fantastic!

    I’m thinking, why didn’t I find this article before I started my blog. If I did, I think, I could see a clean domain name. So, I felt happy and sad at the same time while reading this article.

    Blog – Daglega (I found an Icelandic word as a domain name)
    Niche – Social Media Marketing

    I have already set up. What do you think about my domain name and niche sir.
    Thanks anyway.

    Reply

  32. Liton Biswas
    Jan 14, 2018 @ 02:54:29

    Hey Jon,
    Really good and informative post on starting a blog. I enjoyed it.

    It seems that the world is being digitalized in every way possible. I think we all should have a presence online anyhow.

    However thanks for sharing the post.

    -Liton

    Reply

  33. Jerry
    Jan 14, 2018 @ 13:07:44

    Thanks again Jon, always the best info from you. Your posts always get my attention.

    Reply

  34. Aryan
    Jan 14, 2018 @ 14:54:49

    Thanks, I have found my answer.

    Reply

  35. Divya Sehgal
    Jan 14, 2018 @ 15:50:02

    Hey Jon,

    This is really nice to read this guide and i have started my blog. Thanks For sharing 🙂

    My question is if i redirect 3 expired domain with
    1. DA/PA 20/30
    2. DA/PA 20/1
    3. DA/PA 8/20

    Reply

  36. Richard Lowe
    Jan 14, 2018 @ 22:16:49

    Wow. That’s a complete guide for sure. I’ve had my blog for years now, but I wish I’d seen this back when I started.

    Reply

    • Jon Morrow
      Jan 14, 2018 @ 22:58:57

      Me too, Richard. It would’ve saved me years, but I suppose some of us have to learn the hard way so the rest don’t have to. 🙂

      Reply

  37. Rewari
    Jan 16, 2018 @ 01:08:38

    Thanks so much for your straight up blogging know how talk!

    Reply

  38. yash
    Jan 17, 2018 @ 06:29:24

    Fantastic post!!
    Best fit for this topic. It’s really helpful for everyone who want’s to start a blog. The way you describe this blog is really amazing. Once again you did a great job by sharing such a great post with us. Before reading your post I am not aware of the medium platform. But now I can easily use this to write band share some awesome blogs. Thanks for making and sharing such a great post with all of us. Keep sharing. I am waiting for your future posts.

    Reply

  39. Sanju Suresh
    Jan 17, 2018 @ 07:42:34

    Nice article, keep up the good work!

    Reply

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