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Just started a blog or planning to launch one sometime soon? There’s no denying it, blogging is hard work.
I’ve been blogging for a living since 2008 and the landscape has changed so much since then. At that time there were only a handful of travel bloggers and we all knew each other but now there are new blogs popping up every day!
I’ve seen people join relatively late to the game and they’re now killing it with their blogs, even overtaking other top bloggers in terms of traffic.
It’s never too late to start but there is a lot more competition to rank for certain topics. With so much great content on the Internet, you have to be really bringing your A-game and creating killer, detailed content in order to get your blog seen.
Putting these things aside, blogging can be rewarding. You get to be your own boss, you don’t have to answer to anybody and you can live a much more flexible lifestyle choosing to live and work wherever you want. Once you get your blog to over 100,000 sessions per month you can start to see steady income and a lot of it is passive, which means you’re earning money while you sleep.
However, in order to get to that point it’s going to take a lot of hard work and there are certain things you need to know. Using my wealth of experience I’ve put together a handy list of tips for new bloggers just starting out.
Managing your time
Tip #1 Be disciplined
This is THE most important tip on the list. Self-discipline is the major difference between the people who make it and the people who don’t.
This applies to all entrepreneurs and business owners in any sector, but it’s especially important for blogging.
While some people are out drinking and partying, there are others who are working away on their laptops trying to build their empire. If you want to be successful in your career, you have to put the hours in. There’s no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.
So it’s important to ask yourself, what are you prepared to do?
Can you sacrifice your social life sometimes? Are you prepared to spend lots of time writing lengthy blog posts, editing pictures and thinking of creative ideas?
If you have a full-time job, are you prepared to come home and keep working on your blog in the evenings or on weekends?
If you’re not prepared to put in the time, then you might want to rethink the idea of being a blogger.
Through my work doing influencer photography I often meet aspiring influencers who often say it’s just too time consuming to keep up with it. So you have to really assess if you’re willing to be consistent at it.
Tip #2 Don’t focus too much attention on social media
When you see photos of Instagram influencers jetting around the world, it’s tempting to think that having a social media following is the be-all-and-end-all.
While influencers do get paid through sponsored ads and brand partnerships, you’re much better focusing your time on content writing, SEO and building traffic to your blog. This way you can make passive income through things like display advertising (Ezoic, Mediavine and AdThrive), as opposed to relying entirely on working with brands.
At the end of the day, think of your blog like a piece of real estate. You’re building your own property’s value, as opposed to hosting your content on someone else’s platform. Who knows how the social media landscape will change, or if some networks will fall out of favor.
In addition, social media is just really time consuming. Not only is it incredibly distracting, it’s also getting increasingly hard to grow follower numbers and get your content seen by other users.
It’s fine to have a social media presence but don’t spread yourself too thinly and focus on it too much. I own other blogs that don’t have any social media presence at all really and they get traffic entirely through SEO.
Tip #3 Have a consistent content plan
Write a list of 100 blog topics. Set yourself a goal to consistently write content each week. Be reasonable with the goals you set yourself!
How long does it take you to write a blog post?
If you can write one blog post per day, that’s 5 per work week. But if you’re writing very long posts (3,000+ words or more) then it might take you two days to write and perfect a single post. I’d say you should be writing 3 good blog posts per week (or more) when you’re just starting out.
In 34 weeks (less than a year), you’ll reach your goal of 100 posts. Once you’ve reached 100 quality posts, you can reduce your frequency of posting and focus on updating your older content so it’s always fresh and detailed for Google.
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss your targets but do try to stick to your content schedule. Regular posting and consistency is key.
Setting up your website properly
Tip #4 Use WordPress and make sure your website is self-hosted
If you’re serious about blogging then you need to get your own hosting. At this stage you don’t need expensive hosting and shared hosting plans are very affordable. For just a couple of bucks a month you can get your own hosting with your own domain name.
Some of the best web hosts for new bloggers include A2 Hosting, Hostinger, Namecheap, Siteground, Bluehost and Hostgator.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll want to install WordPress, which is the blogging platform that most bloggers (including me) use.
Tip #5 Don’t worry too much about the domain name
Try to get a .com name. Yes there are other extensions but .com is the one everybody knows and it’s used globally.
The main issue you’ll run into is that most .com domain names are already taken. You might spend days or weeks trying to come up with a name that isn’t taken by somebody else.
Don’t fret too much about it though. Of course it helps to have a name that sounds catchy and gives the reader an indication of the niche you write about. But the blog name isn’t as important as your content.
Do make sure you choose something you’re fairly happy with though, as it’s a hassle to rebrand further down the line.
Tip #6 Check that the Instagram/social media handles aren’t taken
Once you’ve chosen the name and you’ve found that the URL is available, you’ll also want to check that you can get the Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube handles (or whatever social media networks you plan to be using).
Sometimes you’ll find that your domain name is available but someone’s using the name on Instagram or somewhere else. One way around this issue might be to abbreviate your handle or add a symbol, such as an underscore or a full stop. Or, just think of a different name.
Tip #7 Choose a good theme and make sure your website is slick
Themeforest is a popular site where you can find ready-made blog themes that look slick. However, take note: the theme you choose can affect your site speed, so try to choose a theme that’s fast.
I used to use the Bridge theme but found that it was just incredibly slow to load and complicated to customize sometimes on the backend. I switched to the Astra Pro theme for all my sites and I’ve been super happy with it.
When styling your site, think of it as a business website, not just a blog.
Your homepage shouldn’t just be a list of your posts. Include things like a newsletter sign up form, a “latest posts” feed, links to popular content and perhaps a short section introducing yourself. Your homepage is selling you as a brand and showing your visitors what you can offer them.
Tip #8 Set up Google Analytics and Search Console
In order to track your site’s performance and improve usability, you’ll want to set up both Google Analytics and Search Console.
Google Analytics shows you how many people are visiting your site plus it gives you tons of other information such as where your visitors are from and how old they are. This is how you’ll monitor your traffic and see how well you’re doing!
Definitely also set up Google Search Console, which allows you to monitor any site issues and submit new pages to be indexed. Sometimes Google doesn’t crawl your new pages and index them straight away, so you can use this tool to submit the URL of your new blog post to a priority queue. This will have you appearing in Google search faster!
Tip #9 Don’t install tons of plugins, just the essentials
When I started blogging I feel like I installed tons of plugins that were recommended on the Internet. As time went on I realized there were lots I didn’t really use or have a need for and plugins can really slow down the speed of your site. Slow site = bad for visitors = bad for SEO. Try to keep your plugins to a minimum. The bare basics you’ll probably need are:
- Social sharing buttons
- A good anti-spam plugin (such as Akismet)
- SEO plugin (most bloggers use Yoast)
- Database optimization plugin, such as WP-Optimize
- Contact form plugin (such as Ninja Forms, Contact Form 7 or WPForms)
Writing great content
Tip #10 Use a keyword research tool
Purchase Keysearch to do keyword research so you can come up with blog topics that you can easily rank for. It’s cheaper than Ahrefs and just as good in my opinion. You can get 20% off if you sign up using this code: KSDISC.
If you search a phrase like “how to find cheap flights” it will show you the volume of people searching that topic and it will come up with other keyword suggestions.
I also like the “competitive analysis” tool within Keysearch, which helps you analyze your competitors. You can see what keywords they rank for and then try to make even better content to outrank them!
Try to choose keywords that aren’t too competitive. Keysearch gives each keyword a difficulty score, so you’re ideally looking for something with a low difficulty score and strong search volume.
Tip #11 Write long, detailed posts
Ever wondered why food bloggers have long intros to their recipes? Why that “top things to do in” post has a bunch of other sections covering everything from accommodation to costs? Writing longer content helps you get on the first page of Google.
Longer content is seen as more trustworthy and more detailed. If you can show you’re an authority on the subject, then you’re more likely to get traffic to your post.
Your best posts should be 3,000 words or more. It’s a lot but it’s worth it!
Tip #12 Write informative posts
You should be writing for the reader of your post, not for yourself. Think about what someone would be searching for on the Internet. If they’re planning a trip to Paris for instance, they might research “best hotels in Paris”, “things to do in Paris” or “three days in Paris”.
Give them the information they’re looking for and more. Don’t write your blog post like it’s a diary. You’re not telling your family and friends what you got up to on your travels.
Tip #13 Understand how SEO works
Take your time to read more about search engine optimization. Make sure you’re using headers (h2, h3 etc). Put your keywords in your content as well as the post title.
When you upload images, make sure they’re properly named and that you fill in the alt tags with an appropriate description.
Install Yoast SEO on your website so you can edit your post’s SEO title and meta description. Don’t skip any of this stuff – make sure you do it for every post!
Improve your images
Tip #14 Brush up on your photography skills
Bloggers these days are really nailing it with their photography. Photography is no longer just for “professionals”.
Pretty pictures that look like the ones you’d find in glossy magazines are definitely going to help you attract and keep readers. If the photography’s good, people are more likely to share your content too!
Make sure you invest in a decent camera. The latest iPhone takes amazing photos but a mirrorless camera with a good lens will produce even better photos. I currently have the Nikon Z6 with a 35mm lens and it’s great for most situations.
When I started travel blogging in 2008 my camera equipment was obviously nowhere near as good as the cameras we have today. Which is a shame because the quality of my photos from a lot of my trips is really lacking. I almost want to visit these destinations all over again just to take better photos!
But you my friend, since you’re a newbie to blogging, have the advantage of much better technology and articles like this one giving you all the best tips!
Read up about photography, learn the basic rules and discover how to use your camera to take better pictures.
Tip #15 Always edit your photos
You’ll want to shoot in RAW and then use a piece of software like Adobe Lightroom to edit your photos. If you’re not familiar with Lightroom, you can watch video tutorials online to learn more about how to use it.
Lightroom will allow you to edit colors, improve lighting and much more. Lots of bloggers sell Lightroom presets too, so you can buy a set of Lightroom presets and just apply them to all your photos.
Tip #16 Add alt tags to your images
When you save your photos to your computer you’ll want to give them a descriptive name, not just something like DSC_103.jpg. If your photo is of Bondi Beach in Sydney, you’d name it Bondi-Beach-Sydney.jpg.
When you upload your photos to WordPress, add descriptive alt tags that tell visitors what the image is about. This is really important for SEO, so don’t skip this step.
Promoting your posts
Tip #17 Promote your posts on Pinterest
Pinterest is being leveraged by lots of bloggers to promote their posts and gain more traffic. Within your blog post you should be inserting an image designed for Pinterest, aka a “Pin”. This should be a vertical image with text overlay of what your blog post is about. People can pin this photo to their Pinterest board directly from your blog.
Sign up for Pinterest and pin each post to your Pinterest boards. Pinterest is a visual search engine, so it allows people to discover ideas and find your content. Every day you should be creating fresh pins for a few of your blog posts and pinning them to your boards.
To create pretty pins I suggest signing up for Canva and to help you with scheduling pins I suggest Tailwind.
Tip #18 Build backlinks to your posts
Google uses a variety of different factors to determine what position your post will rank in its search engine. One of these factors is the number of backlinks pointing to the post. The more backlinks a post has, the more likely it is that it will appear on page 1 of Google.
How do you build backlinks? There are a number of ways to go about it. Say you mention a list of local restaurants in your blog post; you could reach out to each restaurant and let them know that you mentioned and linked to them in your article. They may very well then link to the article and share it on social media.
Another way to get backlinks is by writing lists of top bloggers in your industry. If you let them know you’ve mentioned them, they may add it to their press page or link to it somewhere on their site.
If people are reaching out to you asking for a link on your site, you could offer up the idea of a link exchange. They get a link on your website and you get a link on theirs.
Another way is to find people who have written about a similar topic to you in Google and then send the manager of the website an email. Tell them you liked their article and that you have a great guide that would be an excellent resource to add to their article.They might ignore your email, or they might add your link!
Monetizing your blog
Tip #19 Sign up for an ad network as soon as possible
As soon as you’ve started filling your site with some good content, sign up to an ad network. Don’t waste precious time when you could be making money while you sleep, even if it’s just a few dollars.
Bloggers usually start out with Google Ads (although these don’t bring in much money), then they progress to Ezoic, which requires 10,000 visitors per month. Once you’ve grown your site to 50,000 visitors per month you can finally sign up for Mediavine. At 100,000 pageviews you can switch to AdThrive.
Bloggers on Mediavine report making around $12-30 per 1,000 pageviews. So if you have 100,000 pageviews you’d make roughly $1200 on the lower end.
Tip #20 Insert affiliate links
The other major way to make money with your blog is by joining affiliate programs. If there’s a company or product you love using, then try to find out if they have an affiliate program where you can earn commission if a reader purchases something from them via your site.
Popular affiliate platforms where you can find brands to mention include . Find posts that get a decent amount of traffic and then go back and insert affiliate links. If the reader clicks on the link and buys something, you’ll get a percentage of the sale.
Tip #21 Decide if you want to run sponsored posts
As you start bogging you’ll receive emails from companies wanting to run sponsored posts. You write a blog post (or they submit the post) and insert a link to their website, giving them a backlink and publicity.
Now it’s an easy way to make money on your blog but the downside is that the content may not sound as authentic and it can be a turnoff for readers, particularly if it’s a brand/company you wouldn’t usually link out to.
It can also be quite time consuming to manage your inbox and deal with sponsored post requests. You may have your prices set but a lot of the time they’ll try to haggle on the price, so you may waste time in negotiations. Not to mention the back and forth in submitting a draft, having it approved by the client, making necessary edits and invoicing them when it’s done.
The best way to make money blogging is to make passive income. Display advertising is a great way to see a steady paycheck every month. Inserting affiliate links can be time consuming but once they’re in your post, you don’t have to touch them and these can generate commissions every month. With these methods you have full control over what you write about and you can pretty much ignore your inbox unless a juicy project comes in.
Tip #22 Reach out to brands
If you want to work with brands you can’t just wait for an email to drop in your inbox. Be pro-active and make a list of brands you’d like to work with. Set up meetings with PR companies that handle their accounts or suggest ideas for collaborations.
If you’re going traveling to a new country, you could contact the country’s tourism board and various hotels to pitch them your content ideas. Sometimes you’ll be able to get some things comped in return for coverage (or if you’re established enough you can even get paid) BUT you must be able to show what’s in it for them.
Send them your website stats pulled from Google Analytics and detail exactly what content you could deliver for them, including number of blog posts, photos and videos.
Remember though, working with brands (especially big ones) can be hard work. They often have a lot of requirements and there are things that you can/can’t say surrounding their brand. They’ll often want to create a contract and sometimes it takes a while to get paid after invoicing.
Building your brand
Tip #23 Spend time networking with other bloggers
Networking with other bloggers is a great way to get your name out there.
Attend conferences in your niche or industry events in your town/city. When you network with other bloggers you’ll be able to swap helpful tips and they’ll often add/mention you on Instagram (yay more followers!).
When you become friends with other bloggers they’re more likely to mention you to brands they’re working with, invite you to other events and collaborate with you on creating social content.
Tip #24 Guest post for other websites
Guest posting is a great way to get backlinks to your website and grow your audience. You simply write an article and then publish it on someone else’s website, which in turn gives you exposure to a new audience.
To do this you’ll need to find blogs or websites in your niche that accept guest posts. One way to do this is to search Google for things like “submit a guest post”, “write for us” or “(insert niche) blogs that accept guest posts”.
Once you’ve found a blog that accepts guest posts, send them an email pitching them your idea. Have a specific topic in mind that you think would be of value to their readers and that fits with the typical content on their site.
Tip #25 Reach out to journalists
Another great way to get publicity is by reaching out to journalists. Find articles on sites like Business Insider mentioning other bloggers in your niche, then look at which journalist wrote the article. Usually you can then find their Twitter or email and reach out to them to pitch an idea.
You can also sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and you’ll receive emails with requests from journalists looking for contributors to various news articles. It’s a way to get some free publicity and possibly a link back to your site.
You should also have a disclaimer page (where you will list your affiliate disclosures) and a terms and conditions page. There are templates you can find online to help you with creating your legal pages.
Tip #27 Where possible use your own images, if not give credit
Google prefers original content so always try to take your own photos where possible, particularly if you’re in the travel/food/lifestyle niche. However, for some niches like finance or dating you’ll probably be using stock images.
Don’t just pull images from people’s blogs or social media accounts and use them on your blog. Even if you give an attribution you can get into trouble! It’s not worth it. Simply use stock photography or the sites listed above, or use your own photos.
Tip #28 File your taxes
File your taxes! When you start blogging and earning money then you’ll need to report this on your tax returns. You may be able to file as an individual sole trader, or you might want to set up your own company entity. In the U.S this would be an LLC and in the UK it would be a Limited Company (LTD).
If you plan on your blog becoming a full-time business then I suggest creating a company entity from the start. Next you’ll want to keep track of your income and expenditure in a spreadsheet. You can claim all sorts of things as expenses, including your blog hosting costs, web design fees and Internet bills.
Make sure you file your taxes when they’re due each year. If you’re filing in the U.S you can use tax preparation software like Turbotax to help you.
You may also want to think about trademarking your new name so no-one else can use it. I know of one blogger who had been blogging for years under his blog name, then one day he found out that a big corporate company had suddenly trademarked it and planned to use it for a campaign. They eventually settled out of court and abandoned the trademark but it gave him a great deal of stress in fighting it.
If you trademark your blog name you’ll have a lot more protection.
Tip #29 Don’t waste too much money on blogging courses
Lots of bloggers sell blogging courses to help you learn how to become a blogger or be a better blogger. These paid courses will walk you through everything step by step. Now if you’re a new blogger starting out and you want to be guided through everything then it might be worth it but if you don’t have much money to spend, then you might want to save your money for other things like web hosting and keyword research tools.
If you’re the kind of person who is good at self-learning, then honestly you can find all the information you need on the Internet! Just type in your question to Google and someone, somewhere will have written a blog post on it. None of these courses are selling information that you can’t find online. So instead of investing hundreds of dollars in e-courses, take the extra time to learn and perhaps buy an e-book instead.
Tip #30 Don’t get disillusioned – Rome wasn’t built in a day!
It’s easy to start feeling disillusioned when you’re putting in long hours but not really seeing any income coming in. You start to wonder if it’s all worth it and whether you’ll actually be able to make a living from blogging.
This point is where most bloggers quit. They figure blogging is just too much work, the rewards aren’t great enough and they’re safer getting a steady paycheck. If you really want to become a successful blogger though, you have to break through the fear and continue on your path. Consistency and determination are what determine if you’ll be successful or not.
So keep writing blog great posts. The more blog posts you have, the more traffic you’ll get. The more traffic you’ll get, the more money you’ll make. There are bloggers out there making thousands per month in passive income and earning money while they sleep.