How To Become A Successful Blogger – A Complete Guide To Getting Started

This is a post that I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time – But I waited. I knew that until I’ve had some experience under my belt, I couldn’t possibly be of much help to anyone – So I waited..and learned and waited some more. Now I’m finally at a place where I feel I have the knowledge, experience and authority to truly make this post meaningful for anyone that has been thinking about starting their first blog or website.

Fair Warning: This is going to be an Epically long post jam packed with every tool, WordPress plugin, website and bits of wisdom I have in my arsenal to allow you to hit the ground running and help you avoid many of the pitfalls I encountered when starting out. In the guide that follows you’ll get a healthy dose of reality, a ton of great information, resources and some of the most complete step by step instructions on the web for getting started.


How To Become A Successful Blogger 101 – Class is in Session


I’m going to be completely honest with you, right from the start…

Building a successful web presence is going to take a lot of hard work. It’s not going to happen over night, and there are no shortcuts to building a great website and more importantly, building traffic. The road is fraught with distractions, doubt, learning experiences and trials of all kind. The one thing… more than any guide(including this one!), youtube video or even paid blogging course that will help you walk this path – is passion.

Still with me? Good.

Now that we’ve scared away anyone without the constitution for a bit of hard work – Let me quickly say that building this blog has been immensely rewarding for me. Yes, you will struggle in the beginning. Yes you will doubt yourself along the way…and yes it may take some time for your blog to gain traction. This is all normal! But you know what? It’s worth it.

Pushing myself to blog on a regular basis has forced me to tackle problems and answer questions that I never would have attempted otherwise. Heck, depending on your niche, listing your blog on your Resume can even set you miles apart from your would-be competition. And getting your first “thank you” comment, your first viral post or your first Adsense check is one of the best feelings in the world. I sincerely want to give you all the knowledge and tools you’ll need to enjoy everything that makes blogging so personally rewarding, So…

I promise you this – I will do my very best to share with you all the information I wish I had when I first started out. If you have any questions, what-so-ever along the way – Please leave a comment or contact me directly and I will help you as best I can.

Alright… Enough with the pep talk. Lets get started!


Choosing A Topic / Niche


Quite possibly the most important decision you’ll make during your journey as a blogger. Your topic will define your website, your content, audience, earnings potential… you name it. Many bloggers (including myself) completely fly past this step, with no real effort or thought given to the choice. Do yourself a favor and take just a few moments to go through the following excercise with me

I want you to do this: grab a notepad and a pen and start brainstorming with me. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Now take a few minutes to jot down some of your favorite interests, hobbies or blogs. To help illustrate my point – We’ll go through it together.

Here’s my list:

1.) Technology / Gadgets (!)
2.) Alternative / Green Energy
3.) Wilderness Survival
4.) LifeHacks
5.) Financial Independence
7.) Gaming
8.) Website Design
9.) Home Improvements

Once you’ve gotten a healthy sized list of possible options thrown together, I want you to choose just one. Don’t make the mistake of trying to start a blog that covers “everything”. My advice to you would be to make sure that it is a subject you are extremely passionate about and could see yourself writing 100’s of posts on.

Deciding on what you want to write about in your blog will not only define what you write about, it will also determine your online competition! While competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be tough for new-comers to steal the spotlight away from the many well established blogs in your niche.



So how do you stand out in a crowd?


Be Different!


One of my favorite real world examples to illustrate just how important “being different” is – would definitely have to be In just 6 months this guy managed to get over 1 million page views in a market with some really fierce competition. How did He do it? He had personality, charisma and his take on financial independence and how to get there was completely unique. He made lasting impressions with his readers and wrote content that shook the foundation of their known world. He challenged his readers to follow his example and built up a loyal community of like minded individuals.

Think of it like this….

If you were a street performer and your lively hood depended on grabbing peoples attention when they are passing by – could you survive? Would you be able to steal their attention away from their cell phones or  interrupt their conversations? Could you do anything to make them stop and listen to you for even just a minute, even if it meant they would be late for work?
**(paraphrased from the great – John Marrow)

The problem becomes worse when you think of this example in terms of the online landscape. Just how many people could you convince to read your blog post instead of watching the next “top 10 cutest cat moments” video they have queued up? I’m not saying this to scare you off.. I’m saying this to make a point. If you really want to make a lasting impression with your readers, have them share your content and subscribe, if you really want to become a truly successful blogger…. you’ll have to do something memorable to jolt them awake, make them laugh, or think or cry. The more emotions you can evoke from your readers, the better.

To do all that, You need to be passionate about your topic! Choose wisely my friends 🙂



  • Choose a Topic you are passionate about.
  • Be unique.
  • Don’t just write to inform. Be as engaging, entertaining and uniquely you as possible.



Keyword Research


80% of Your Success Is Determined Before You Even Start Typing!

Kind of crazy, isn’t it? Let me explain…

If you have been researching the topic  of “how to become a successful blogger” for any length of time you would have probably heard the following phrases several times over…

  • write epic content – the readers will come
  • write for people, not search engines
  • tag your content
  • etc, etc, etc – the list goes on…

While all of these are great rules to *blog by*, there is a very valid reason that SEO (search engine optimization) has become such a huge industry. If you just start “typing some shit into your computer” and put your faith into Google to realize your post is the best of the best on the subject… you’ll probably be disappointed with the results. If you don’t target keywords on your website or in your posts – you probably have no idea how people are finding your content… or for that matter what your keywords are.

You could be unknowingly targeting keywords that have only 10 searches a month or even worse, keywords that have insane competition in Google that you could never dream of outranking. Where if you only knew a bit of Keyword Research Voodoo, you could’ve saved that post and maybe even leveraged it to go viral! Here is a quick glance at the post of this title before I targeted any keywords VS after choosing a keyword to target with LongTailPro.

My first headline would have read something like… Everything You Need To Know When Starting Your First Blog

This would have netted me a targeted keyword with 10 local searches per month and a keyword competitiveness score of 37. (not very good)



Now let’s compare that to the new title: How To Become A Successful Blogger – A Complete Guide To Getting Started



Even the uninitiated should be able to gleam that those numbers signify a huge difference in traffic, earnings and readers!

Since I am not an expert in the field quite yet, I’ve opted to share the following video by Pat Flynn. It is an hour long – So if you want to skip this section for now and come back to it, I totally understand. Just make sure that you do your due diligence in regards to keyword research before deciding on a domain name!


Here are some other great resources for targeting Keywords.



  • If Possible, Use your target keyword in your domain name
  • Target Keywords in your Blog Posts
  • Paid Tools like Long Tail Pro aren’t necessary, but will save you a ton of time and lessen the learning curve.
  • Don’t skip this step!


Picking A Hosting Company & Domain Name


Assuming that you’ve done all the super fun keyword research stuff… you’ll be glad to hear that this part is really easy 🙂

I personally use and recommend BlueHost for hosting your website. They make it super easy to create your first WordPress web-site with their automatic install process and boast some amazing customer support.
(No really – Their customer support is truly top-notch)

$4.95 per month?!

What is that really costing you? One vente’ white chocolate mocha each month?

Trust me here – Don’t waste your time looking for a free hosting company just to save a few bucks each month! Free blogging platforms are  typically supported by ads they place on your website, that means no earning potential for you and no freedom to choose your ad networks! It also means that when you finally wise up and port over to a dedicated domain, you’ll spend hours if not days learning how to port all your content.

This one is a no brainer – BlueHost All the Way.

If you decide to go with BlueHost, they will also allow you to register a domain name absolutely free with your package. You can start looking for an available domain name now @ BlueHost.Com.

The above ads are affiliate ads for Bluehost. And even though I earn a commission if you choose to start your website with BlueHost today – Please trust me when I tell you that I would never try to sell or endorse a product I don’t personally use or honestly recommend. You have my word.


Setting Up Your WordPress Website


Alright! Now we’re finally getting to the good stuff.

To demonstrate how incredibly easy it is to get started, I’d like to share another video from Pat Flynn on how to start your first wordpress blog and write your first post in just 4 minutes!

**I will be posting my own version soon!


Themes & Plugins


A lot of people can get hung up on choosing their first theme, with so many options available and an almost endless amount of customizations it’s easy to get hung up on choosing “the perfect” theme.

Before you can decide on a theme though, you’ll need to choose if you want a free theme or a paid one. While I strongly encourage you to look into the premuim themes I mention below, I know some of you may be cautious about spending any more cash after you just paid for hosting. There is nothing wrong with starting with a free theme, heck I went through several different free themes when I started out.

But For anyone that wants a truly polished and professional looking blog with all the bells and whistles from the get go, there are really only 2 options in my mind:

  1. Learn CSS & PHP and customize your free theme or create one from scratch.
  2. Purchase a premium theme! (one time cost)

I’ll re-iterate this point once more, since it took awhile for it to sink in for me. If you are really serious about blogging, do yourself a favor and purchase a premium theme from the start. There are tons of benefits for making the leap – most importantly…

  • A flexible, scale-able theme right from the get go.
  • Less wasted time on porting & configuring your website “trying out” different free themes.
  • If you choose to purchase a package from Elegant themes, You have full access to their support center where you can create support requests to your hearts content to get your website to look exactly the way you wan it to.
  • Again, If you purchase from Elegant Themes, You will have access to 50+ premuim Themes! From custom tailored themes about travel, business, photography & more!

While I’m a big supporter of Elegant Themes, I also highly suggest looking into Genesis or Thesis. They are incredibly powerful themes that are used on a ton of very popular blogs, including SmartPassiveIncome, CloudIncome, WPBeginner and many, many more.

Pro Tip:
If you still aren’t sure which theme to choose, go ahead and visit a dozen of your favorite websites and do some research. Typically you can scroll to the footer of the blog and find out what theme they are using! Take note of how many of them are using free themes. (FYI – the answer is none.)


WordPress Plugins

Here is another easy place to get hung up when you first start out – plugins. I can’t recall how many forums & blog posts I read trying to figure out which plugins I should be using. Luckily for you though, I’ve done all the hard work of sorting out some of the best plugins on the market as well as detailing my own plugins here @ on my WordPress Plugins page.

Also be sure to check out my latest post: 42 Experts Share Their Top 10 Must Have WordPress Plugins.



Tools of The Trade


In this section, I’ll detail all the websites & software I have used and love here @


Free photo editing software that will allow you to work with layers and create images that stand out for your blog posts.

Free FTP software to connect to the back-end of your WordPress website.

BB FlashBack Recorder
Another great peice of free software that allows you to record videos of your screen. Perfect for tutorials or How-To videos.

Allows you to quickly and easily convert your video files to the YouTube friendly .mp4 format. (Free)

Fully functional desktop, gaming & streaming recorder. – $29.99

Create a .gif in minutes! (Free – donations encouraged)


Great free service for split testing ad layouts and different themes.

Quickly and Easily Create a logo for your website.

Setup a mailing list, create optin forms, mail campaigns & more. (free up to 1,000 subscribers)

Social Crawlytics
The best tool online for finding the most shared content on the web. Great for spying on your competition!

Smart Passive Income
Mr. Pat Flynn shares his knowledge and information on how to make money online. Fantastic Blog and a great resource for beginners and experts alike.

WordPress beginner is a great resource for learning all of the basics.

Another great website dedicated to sharing some of the best information online for making money online.

The creator of LongTailPro details what it takes to dominate in the world of Niche websites. Great resource for keyword information!

An amazing collection of writers share posts on how to be a better writer. CopyBlogger is a great place to go and get inspired about writing.



Parting Advice…


1.) Choose a Topic/Niche you are passionate about.

2.) Try to target keywords to improve your traffic & Revenue.

3.) Offer something unique to your visitors/readers with your content.

4.) Use BlueHost for the best hosting experience.

5.) Setup a subscription / optin form via MailChimp right away.

6.)  Start social media pages for your website immediately! (Twitter, Pinterest, FaceBook, etc)


Blogging is not going to be something you will master over night, My biggest piece of advice is to never stop learning. Read and research as much as you can, there is a ton of great information available online for absolutely free. In particular the websites I’ve listed above have been the most helpful for me personally.

Take some time to read through some of their content and you will set your self miles apart from the competition. I’ve just given you a very basic outline and a ton of great resources for getting started on your road to become a successful blogger – Now it’s up to you to put everything we’ve discussed into motion.

~Best of Luck,



Frequently Asked Questions


click to expand a section…

Don’t I need to know HTML, PHP or CSS?

While these skill sets would certainly benefit you, they are by no means “necessary”.

These skills are generally only called upon when you are seeking to have complete control of the design and layout of your blog. For beginners, the wide array of themes and WordPress plugins should meet most of your needs quite well.

If you forced me to choose one to focus on, it would have to be CSS. Even then, most of what will be required of you in the CSS & PHP departments can be learned over time and in my experience has been very minimal!

Exactly how much money do you make from blogging?

You’re welcome to check out my WordPress Timeline page that details exactly how much I’ve earned from EDT every single month since I’ve started blogging. 😀


What’s the best way to monetize my website?

Whatever makes you the most money…

Sorry for the terrible answer, but it’s a difficult question to answer definitively!

By far my biggest earner as always been Google Adsense, but often finding out what is most lucrative for you will require some trial and error and will also heavily be defined by your website and you’re niche. For example, If you have a niche website that focuses on product reviews of… lets say pet products. You will probably earn most of your money through the Amazon affiliate program, linking to products on

Here is my complete list of personal recommendations.

There are of course, many, many more affiliate program sites out there. But these are the programs that I personally would start with!


What’s a niche website, and should I build one?

Taken from Google…

niche site is a website focused on a very specific term or target. Generally because of Google and Bing and all the other search engines this is refered to as a keyword or keyword term. And you want to make sure that the keyword term that you use for a niche site is very focused.

So should I build one?

If you are serious about learning SEO, doing keyword research and making money quickly… then this may be a good option for you. While I personally can’t say that I have any experience with building a true niche website, Here are some fantastic resources to get you started…


If  I wanted to start with a free theme, what would you recommend?

Didn’t you read my previous comments on premium themes?!

Just kidding 🙂 – starting with a free theme is what nearly everyone does.  It allows you to test the blogging waters without investing more of your hard earned cash into your website. I personally have used and recommend the following.



Did I Miss Anything?

So ends my guide on “How To Become A Successful Blogger”. I’ve covered a lot of different topics in this post, and perhaps even failed to address any questions you had in the process. Lets set that straight right now.

By all means – If you have any questions at all before you feel comfortable getting started, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or contact me directly!


All The Best,