Trying to figure out how to start a niche blog in 2018 may not be that simple, but I think I can help you out with that.
As part of my plan to build multiple streams of income, starting a niche blog was one of my goals for 2017. I started work on my niche blog around November 2017, and have been working on it ever since. I actually started it around the same time I started this blog.
I have had many blogs before, most of them failures, and some I went on to sell to make a nice profit. My plan for my niche blog I have just started is to keep growing it, and expanding, with the end goal of starting a brand based around my blog and the niche it is in. Combine this with my plans for Amazon FBA, I hope to be able to generate sales on Amazon for my brand, and have return customers visit my website/blog and generate more sales, and visitors.
How to Start a Niche Blog in 2018
Today, we are going to look at how to start a niche blog, and how to set everything up, what you need, and how much it is going to cost, then moving onto some strategies you can use to promote your blog, and start getting traffic, for free!
First, lets talk a little about my niche blog.
The niche I have chosen to blog about is something I already have a passion for, and know quite a lot about the topic already. I find that when you do not like the topic you are blogging about, it makes it so much harder to focus, and write articles. I have had blogs before about Jailbreaking iPhones, Windows 7 Themes… and I just wan’t interested in writing articles for them, hence giving them up.
When choosing a topic for your blog, write about something you like and are passionate about, you will find it easier to make great content. You should be aiming to write at least 1000 words in each blog post you make, and the content should be totally unique, otherwise Google will drop your search rankings!
My blog is running on WordPress, using a free theme from the WordPress theme library, and I use a number of different plugins to help do things on my blog, I will cover these further on down the article.
So far, my best days traffic was around 500 unique visitors, but it is averaging around 50-100 uniques per day, not too bad for a new blog in my opinion. I am generating about £1 in revenue per week at present, though, that will keep rising as my traffic keeps rising. I hope to be able to generate £15 a month by this time next year, I know this is not much, but growing a blog takes time.
Starting a Niche Blog – Quick Overview
You can start a blog in just a few hours if you so want, I advise taking a little longer and putting some time and thought into the layout and design you want, which can all be done with a free WordPress theme, but if you need it done asap, then these are the steps you need to take.
Here is a quick run down of the process you will need to take if you want to start a niche blog quickly.
- Set some short and long term goals for your blog
- Find a great domain name and get hosting
- Install WordPress as your blogging platform – it’s free
- Setup your theme
- Write some great content, don’t copy someone else’s!
- Begin collecting emails using an opt-in form
So, thats the basic steps you would need to start a niche blog in 2018, but lets get into some more detail, and show you exactly how you need to go about setting up your blog to do it right!
Setting up a Niche Blog in 2018
Time to get into the more serious stuff.
There are a number of things you will want to pay attention to if you really want to make blogging work in 2018.
The first thing you need to do is find a suitable domain name for your blog. This should be relevant to your niche, so, for example, if you choose Gardening as you niche, you don’t want your domain name to be davidsplumbingservices.com. This is kind of obvious, but I thought I would point it out anyway.
You want your domain name to be short and sweet, 2 words is what I find works best, you want people to be able to remember what your blog is called, for example, this blog is called Cactus Weaver, I think this is a catchy title, and is short, so hopefully people can remember it pretty easily.
Some people me find choosing between a .com, .co.uk, .org domain and so on complicated, whilst I usually go with .com domains, it doesn’t really have much of an impact, but, personally, I would stick to either .com or .co.uk.
A Self Hosted WordPress blog is best
Despite having lots of cool features, I still believe that blog hosts such as Tumblr, Squarespace and even WordPress.com do not give you the control, customisation and ownership options that you might require.
Using a free host is a great way to save some money when starting your blog, but, you will want to migrate to a self hosted blog at some point, I can nearly guarantee it, so it is best to just go with the self-hosted option from the start to save any complications along the way.
The second thing you will want to do is get your own hosting, this is usually paid monthly, Namecheap offer a yearly package at a great price of $8.88 per year for the first year. Once you have your hosting, you are going to want to go ahead and setup your WordPress install.
My chosen blogging platform is WordPress, it’s easy to use and very easy to install, WordPress is the only blogging platform I have every used, so I might be a little bias towards it, but millions of other bloggers out there use it too, so there has to be something good about it, right?
There are millions of themes, plugins and other extras readily available on the internet for free for WordPress, so you have an abundance of things to choose from when customising your blog to the way you want it to be.
Installing WordPress Blogging Platform
Now that you have your domain name and hosting setup, you are going to need to setup your WordPress blogging platform. This is very easy and fast to do, I will walk you through the steps you need to take to get WordPress up and running.
- Login to cPanel – yourdomain.com/cpanel
If you check the email you got when purchasing your hosting, you will find cPanel login details, go ahead and grab these and login.
- Scroll down a little, and find the section labelled Website, under that you will find a link to install WordPress, click it.
- Now you need to choose a username and password for your WordPress administrator area, this is the area of your blog where you install themes, plugins and make posts.
Fill out the username and password field, making sure not to use the default name of admin. When choosing a password, make sure it is totally random, and jot it down on a bit of paper so you do not forget it. Where it says “Blog Name Goes Here”, type in the name of your blog, in my case, this is Cactus Weaver.
- Click Install, and wait until the process is complete.
Thats it, you have now installed WordPress, and are ready to start customising your blog.
Once the install has finished, you will be given a confirmation message with your unique link to login to your WordPress admin area, this will look something like: http://yoursite.com/wp-admin
Copy this link, and bookmark it so you can easily login whenever you want to. This is the URL you will need to go to when you want to write blog posts, change themes, virtually anything related to your blog can be done here.
Now that you have installed WordPress on your niche blog, you are going to want to select a nice theme to use.
To change your theme, simply login to your WordPress dashboard using the URL you got after the install, then navigate to APPEARANCE > THEMES > ADD NEW and then use the search box to find a theme you like, or upload your own custom theme using the upload button.
When choosing a theme, I suggest you go with something clean and simple looking, you want your website to load as fast as possible, and very fancy, graphic rich themes tend to load quite slow.
Once you have found the theme you like, you can preview it by clicking on the preview button that appears when you hover your mouse over the theme thumbnail. If you like it, click install theme and that’s it.
Now you are ready to start customising your blog.
Plugins are add-ons that you can add to your WordPress site. They can do lots of different things, like display ads, count page views, the list is endless. There are a number of different plugins I recommend you install right away, here is the list.
- Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a plugin which helps you out with SEO (search engine optimisation). This is vital if you want your blog to appear in Google searches. When writing articles for your blog, it gives you the option to enter a focus keyword (keyword you want to rank in Google for), then Yoast SEO will tell you what you need to do in order to improve your article to rank for said keyword. It has many other features, that is just one of them.
- Opt-In Forms by Cat
This is a mailing list opt-in plugin, which allows you to generate mailing list signup boxes to display on your site as a popup, sidebar widget, or in post widget.
- Super Socializer
This plugin adds social sharing to your blog, you can choose which social networks you wish to display in the sharing list. Super Socializer is a great plugin for getting your website shared on Facebook, reddit, Google+ and many others.
- W3 Total Cache
Having a fast blog is very important, people hate waiting on websites to load, if you blog loads too slow, people will leave. W3 Total Cache is a plugin that caches pages on your site, and serves them as static HTML pages, meaning they will load faster.
Wordfence is a security plugin which blocks brute force login attempts, potential hacker attacks and much more, it is advisable to install it.
- Google Analytics – GADWP
I use the plugin GADWP, this plugin shows me my Google Analytics stats in my WordPress dashboard, and also allows for easy implementation of your analytics tracking code.
- Advanced Ads
This plugin enables you to implement ads on your website with ease, and rotates them with the frequency you select. It supports Google Adsense, text ads, images, and others. It is important to note, that when putting ads on your niche blog, you do not saturate it with adverts, I recommend having 1 or 2 ads in the sidebar, and 1 or 2 ads in your post, with the first ad being after the second paragraph, and depending on the length of the article, the next ad 3/4 of the way down.
- Contact Form 7
Google Adsense again requires you to have a contact page in your website. I use the plugin Contact Form 7, it is simple to use, and you can generate a simple contact form in seconds.
- Contextual Related Posts
This plugin is great, if you look at the bottom of my post, you will see related posts, this is what this plugin does, generates those post images and titles and places them there.
- No Self Pings
Another useful plugin, no self pings. When you link to another post on your website, you get a ping back notification in your WordPress dashboard, this was annoying me as I had hundreds of them, so I installed this plugin, and that put an end to it.
- WordPress Popular Posts
Last but by far least, the WordPress popular posts plugin. If you look in my right sidebar, you will see popular posts. This is what this plugin is for. It is a great way to keep visitors on your site as they will want to check out other popular posts.
After setting up your themes and plugins, you now want to make sure all your other settings are correct. Go to SETTINGS > GENERAL and check everything is correct there, the blog title is present, along with a site tagline. Next, skip down to Permalinks, and set these up to show a friendly URL. I have my permalink structure as follows: /%category%/%postname%/
This will show my link as cactusweaver.com/category/post-title/
Widgets can be found under APPEARANCE > WIDGETS in the dashboard side bar. Click it and have a look around. To start a niche blog properly, you will first want to make sure you have all the design work complete, this may mean adding some rubbish articles to get the space filled so you will know what you blog will look like when you have high quality content.
A widget can be used to display categories, ads, custom HTML, anything really. As you can see from the screenshot below, these are the widgets I currently have active on my blog. You just drag and drop them into place.
That’s it for general settings, and now you should have your WordPress niche blog setup and ready to start rolling out some great content.
Generating Traffic and Readers
The biggest problem new bloggers have is traffic. Some think it is as simple as starting a blog, posting articles and then the traffic will come to you. In reality, its not that simple at all. To start a niche blog, you need to have a plan for how you are going to get traffic. There are a number of ways you can get traffic to your blog, but we are going to talk about how I am getting traffic to my blog, for free, and how you can copy the exact steps I am taking to get traffic to your blog too.
Reddit is my number one source of traffic, and it is very easy to get loads of traffic from here, with very little work. The first thing you want to do is make sure you have GREAT content, I cannot stress this enough.
Reddit users are ignorant, they will throw abuse at you, if your article is shit, you will soon hear about it.
When making a post on reddit, it is important to obey the rules of the sub you are posting under, otherwise you will get banned, and have to start over again, which is not ideal. You want to try and build up your reddit account in order to have lots of good karma, this will be of benefit when making posts, as you will be seen as more trusted.
Making the post is how you get traffic, so spend some time planning it out. I post under a number of different sub-reddits, some, I submit a link, others I submit a text post. What I find best is to submit a post that generates interest, and gives back to the community. You can throw your link in half way down the post provided it is relevant and gives the users good content to read.
Places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are great for generating traffic. I don’t get that much traffic from these sources yet, but I am working on building up my fan base on all three by posting great content everyday. Infographics tend to work very well, specially on Twitter and Facebook.
This one takes a little bit more time, but is well worth it. Posting on forums has two benefits, it can give you a backlink, plus send traffic to you blog. Again, when posting on forums, you are going to want to build up your post count to 50 or 60 posts before starting to link to your blog, otherwise your account will be banned for spamming. Everyone hates spammers.
Just like reddit, be sure to post relevant links, and great content, and try and generate some conversation on the forum by asking other users questions in your post, don’t just drop a link in a post and hope for the best.
This way does not really generate much traffic, but it does get you some backlinks. About 2% of my traffic to my niche blog comes from blog comments I have made on other blogs in the same niche.
Lastly, videos. These are a great way to promote your blog. I am starting to post more videos on YouTube to build my blogs brand, and from those videos, I get visitors to my website!
The key to all of these techniques is posting great content that people love to read!
Making Money with your Blog
Making money from your blog sounds great, there are lots of bloggers who make a full time income from their blog, but this is not easy to achieve. It takes a lot of time, and effort to build a successful blog, but, it can be done, and I am proving that! I had made 17 sales so far through Amazons Affiliate program, and made £3 on Google Adsense! Yay!
Adsense is the most popular way to monetise a website, and is probably the easiest too. With Adsense, you get paid per click, or impression of an ad. Setting up Google Adsense on your blog is very easy, click here to apply for an Adsense account. Make sure to read the terms before you signup, and make sure your content is within Googles guidelines.
Amazon Affiliate Program
This is my favourite way to make money from my blog. Amazon have an affiliate program that gives you the chance to earn a small commission each time someone purchases something on Amazon after clicking a link from your blog. Signup with Amazon Associates to get started right away. Again, make sure you obey all their rules, I had my last account closed due to this blog, as I used the Amazon logo in one of my posts. I no longer use Amazon to monetise this blog, but it is doing very well on my other niche blog.
By far, the best way to make money from you blog is through a mailing list. I have always been told, the money is in the list. This is long term, and you can keep in contact with your readers, send them out emails full of advise, and other great content, and occasionally, promote great offers to them. It is important not to spam your subscribers, otherwise you will see your subscriber base shrink.
Lastly, affiliate programs. I have not looked into this too much yet as I don’t have the time, but I plan on adding some affiliate offers and products to my blog as soon as I can. Affiliate programs will pay you to generate sale, so you may get a 20-30% commission, I have seen some programs offering a 40% commission! If you can find an affiliate offer that is relevant to your niche, and you think your readers would love it, try promoting it.
Learn How to analyse Competition
Before you even start your blog, you first need to assess the competition. Do you want to rank first place on Google for highly competitive keywords? If so, you need to check out what other blogs and websites are ranking for those keywords also, and find out if you will be able to out rank them.
You can check their backlinks, keywords, and article quality, if you don’t think you are going to be able to out rank them, then either come up with another traffic source, or think of a different niche.
All is not lost if you can’t out rank them, you can still do very well with your blog, it will just take a little bit more time to rank first page on Google, but, over time, it can be done!
Longer is Better
When writing content for your blog, you want to aim for long, high quality articles, writing short content just won’t get your good rankings in Google searched, so make the effort, spend the time, and put together a high quality article of at least 1000 words.
Forget about short updates, save them, and make one big update, it will work wonders. Neil Patel has spoken about how well long content has worked for him, and Google have now even launched an in-depth section on articles on their search results.
Paid Advertising can Skyrocket your Success
Paid advertising can work wonders for your blog, but most people hate the idea of spending money, specially if they are unsure if it will actually generate them any return. Whilst spending money on your blog now in the form of paid advertising may not generate you immediate income, it will help to spread your blogs brand, and get your recognised by others in the same niche.
The great thing about paid advertising is, you can target people who are interested in your niche, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Facebook offer paid advertising, and it is quite cheap. I have yet to implement this strategy on my niche blog, I am waiting until I get more content before I run any form of paid ads.
Make Friends in Your Niche – It’s Essential
Making friends in your niche is a great way to boost your publicity. It is essential that you start reaching out to big blogs, and making a connection with them, not spamming them with guest post requests. You want to connect on a professional level with them, and possibly even network.
I am in the process of doing this at the moment, and hopefully will have something to report back here within the next few months.
Make Your Blog Mobile Friendly
Mobile and tablet devices are now the primary source of web traffic all over the world, so, when setting up your niche blog, you need to make sure the the theme you choose is mobile compatible, or a responsive design, this means the theme will change its layout to fit any screen size.
I have seen loads of blogs that are not mobile friendly, and it makes the site really hard to use on a tablet of mobile phone, I would usually just close out of the website and go back to where I was before, so, you see how having a mobile friendly site can help reduce bounce rates and increase loyal visitors.
Google is known for removing non mobile and tablet friendly sites from its search results, you don’t want this happening to you.
Stand Out From The Crowd
Don’t just copy what others are doing, make your own content, make something unique, something that people will share, and enjoy reading. If you just post reworded articles that you have got from another website, then people will work this out eventually and stop visiting your blog.
If you want to get recognised, it is important that you add your own twist to articles, and write like you would speak it, making it unique. When you first start blogging, spend some time reading other blogs in the same niche, see what they are doing, jot down some ideas of your own, and get to work.
If you get a really good article, that no one else has blogged about, you could go viral!
You Could Buy a Blog
If you really don’t want to take the time to start your own blog, take the time to build traffic and your brand, then you can always buy a blog. Websites like Flippa sell blogs, and other forms of web assets, it’s basically like an eBay for websites and online businesses.
Personally, I like the task of building up a blog, I like achieving something, and that feeling when you generate your first Amazon Affiliate sale, or get your first Adsense click is like no other. I like knowing that I have done it on my own, but, there is nothing wrong with buying a blog, hell, you could even buy it, build it up, then flip it for a profit, I know people making a killing doing this!
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation is Essential
If you want to get traffic from Google, you will need to optimise your blog for search engines. SEO is a whole topic on its own, but, the plugin I mentioned above, Yoast, it will help you out with SEO. An important part of SEO is building backlinks, and if your content isn’t great, no-one will want to link to it. You can build backlinks yourself by commenting on other blogs, this does take time, but can pay off in the long run, plus, it can get you some traffic.
Another important factor in SEO is website load speed, you must have a fast loading website in order for Google to rank you well. If not, you will find it very hard to rank.
So, thats my take on how to start a niche blog in 2018, how you setup your blog, and how to generate traffic and money. I hope you found this article useful.