How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide (2020)

Check out our How to Start a Blog Library for more:
1. Evaluating Your Niche’s Blog Topics for Income Potential

2. Competitive Analysis of Your Blog Niche

Every day, around the world, people ponder how to start a blog for a variety of reasons:

  1. They’re intensely passionate about a particular subject and want to share that feeling with the world.
  2. They have a distinct viewpoint to share and want to build a community around shared beliefs.
  3. They want to generate some income and make money blogging. Heck, maybe even enough to someday replace the day job and grab some more freedom. A good goal to have, right!?

How to Start a Blog in 2020, and Beyond

Choosing the blog niche you want to pursue isn’t an easy process. Determining long-term goals, and how those align with your knowledge base, helps identify interesting topics to write about.

Will the topic hold your own, and your audience’s attention, for the long-haul? There are few more important questions to consider.

It’s a certainty you’ll pour over your blog topics list for hours – if not days – and that’s fine. Don’t stress, it’s natural. It’s a vital decision that will make your blog a powerhouse. Tough decisions require careful consideration, and there’s some discomfort involved.

That’s life.

No matter what, the topic you choose should be one you can write about with confidence and authority.

The #1 Thing to Know About Choosing Blog Topics

Confidence and authority on the subject of your blog is just part of the equation. We’re going to assume you’re here to learn about how to make money blogging.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. See him over there? Good. We’ll get back to him in a few.

He’ll be okay for now.

An elephant hanging over a conference table full of people.

There he is.

First, let’s take a quick look at the foundation of conventional blogging wisdom:

Infographic: Why Most Blogging Coaches Are Wrong

The constant, painstaking slog for organic traffic and making offerings to the Google gods can be brutal. No one’s promising instant riches in changing this mindset. Conventional blogging wisdom discounts the inherent value of your time.

The world’s saturated with passion project bloggers, y’all, and trust us, the passion wanes after being focused on one topic. Oh yeah, here’s the elephant: Passion projects are not profitable.

Identifying the right audience with a budget to spend, and scaling your blog like a business, is. It’s time to make blogging your friend, not an elephant hanging out over your shoulder.

Agree? Let’s dig in.

How to Discover Business-First Blog Topics

A few items must be considered when evaluating how to start a blog with the right business mindset:

1. The audience’s expendable income and reader personas.

  • Does the audience for which I’m writing have expendable income?
  • Would business owners in the niche be able to pay for 1:1 consulting services or other products I offer?
  • Am I a part of the target audience I’m writing for?
  • Who are the people that make up this audience? Why do I want them as consistent readers and evangelists of my blog and professional network?
  • Is the blog topic on which I’m writing one I have deep, profound knowledge about.
  • Can I utilize the professional network I’ve created to promote my blog and help rapidly escalate its growth?

2. Demand for information related to the blog topic.

  • Are people searching for the keywords central to the topic on Google?
  • How heavy is my competition in this topic?
  • Is the barrier to entry low enough I can make some quick headway?
  • Or, conversely, would I be banging my head against the wall unnecessarily?

Evaluating blog topics along these lines requires using some benchmarks which can be researched using keyword tools. These sites help you take a deep dive into a niche’s competition level.

We’ll take a closer look at that process a bit later.

First, let’s take a look at how the best blogs establish reader personas and evaluate competition.

How the Best Blogs Establish Reader Personas and Evaluate Competition

Infographic: Business Focused Blogs Should Always Do Two Things

Establishing reader personas helps you as a blogger determine how to start a blog. This is vital, given you’re only going to be writing on a handful of blog topics. Most of the content you create will be outsourced to freelance writers as part of your overarching content strategy.

Establishing Reader Personas When You Create a Blog

To uncover reader personas you first need to consider: Am I part of the audience for whom I’m writing. If the answer to the question is no, take a step back and reconsider your blog topics. If the answer is yes, great. Full speed ahead!

Next, it’s time to sketch out who a perfect reader of your blog would be. There are a few things to consider including demographics, psychographics, and audience behavior as you start to create a blog.

Demographics, Psychographics and Audience Behavior

Let’s tackle these together, one by one:

1.  DemographicsDemographics are statistical data describing characteristics of a population, such as:

  •  Age
  • Gender
  • Income Level
  •  Ethnicity
  • Religion
  •  Number of Children
  • Martial Status

2.  Psychographics – Psychographics are defined as the study of consumer lifestyles to create a detailed customer profile.

  • To understand the psychographics of your reader, you’ll need to understand what they want to know about your blog topic, in our case, how to start a blog, and how knowledgeable they are about your niche.
  • You’ll also need to know what stake they have in visiting your blog.
  • Is it out of casual interest, or do they have more specific, direct intent, perhaps that’s related to their work or business?

3.  Audience Behavior- How does my target reader behave?

  • Human beings, don’t always act predictably, as we know.
  • Therefore we need to identify personas to understand what they truly want, and not just go by what the data shows.
  • To complete your audience persona,  you first need to see how their behavior aligns with who they appear to be.
  • What type of content do they like?
  • What type of information convinces them to take the action(s) you’re looking for?
  • Does this all match up with who they appear to be on the surface?

When you address a reader’s goals you’ll find that a casual reader becomes a passionate follower.

Better yet, when your blog’s audience is full of evangelists, the sky’s the limit!

How Blogging Websites Evaluate Audience Budget

With developing evangelists becoming the goal, it’s vital you target evangelists with expendable income. With due diligence, these people should quickly separate from the pack.

Given over 2.7 billion people in the world use Facebook, it makes sense their Audience Insights tool would be a fantastic (and free) place to do some audience evaluation. To enter Facebook Audience Insights, visit this page.

Next, click on Go to Audience Insights to enter the platform:

Facebook IQ Page for Audience Insights. Blue Go to Audience Insights button.

Once you have entered Insights, you’ll see the following options:

Choosing an Audience to Start on Facebook Audience Insights

If you have a Facebook page for your blog, and have started to build a substantial following, select “People Connected to Your Page.” If not, it’s best to select “Everyone on Facebook.”

No matter which option you choose, you will arrive at this page, next:

An Audience Selection Screen on Facebook Audience Insights

This is the home page for Facebook Audience Insights. There are ton of customization options, here, to help you evaluate an audience.

How Do I Know My Blog Topics Are Business-Focused?

To evaluate a hobby niche versus one whose readers have spending potential, let’s take a look at gardening versus commercial landscaping.

To start, input gardening under interests, and select 18 to 65+ as the age range to narrow down the initial audience of 150-200M people:

Using just that variable has decreased our total audience from all of Facebook to 30-35M people in the United States. You can see from the graphs that 72% of people who like gardening are female and there’s an equal distribution among age groups.

As you can see, gardening bloggers are likely females of all ages. Given this, there would be substantial competition trying to make money blogging in this niche. It would be a long road ahead.

Now, for sure, there’s some money to be made gardening about blogging (I guess, anyway) if you’re willing to write about it for years, daily, and follow conventional blogging wisdom. What if we changed the mindset and took a look at landscape architecture?

Here’s a screenshot from Facebook Audience Insights for landscape architecture as an interest:

Audience Selection from Facebook Audience Insights with an Interest variable.

See how much smaller this niche is!?

With this basic interest search you can see there are 5-6 million people in the US that are interested in landscape architecture. It’s a safe bet some of these folks are professional landscape architects (with money to spend), who would love to secure your services as a consultant to help them develop their content.

See where I’m going?

Remember That You’re Trying to Create Evangelists

In summary, always think about how the niche you’re considering can be given a business application, and how you can create an audience around that approach.

Doing so will set your blogging efforts up for success before you even start to evaluate demand for the niche and think about how to start a blog.

The next step is creating content in a way that’s appealing to your evangelist persona in the more focused niche. What about the content that will encourage them to share it, engage with it, and buy what you’re looking to sell?

These are questions that always have to be front of mind when you’re considering blog topics, and longer-form content like eBooks which could eventually be packaged to sell to the audience you build.

How to Scale Growth With Your Professional Influence

Throughout the course of your professional career, you have certainly built a network, and within it, a special type of influence given your experience, skillset, and accomplishments.

The nature and makeup of this network will help determine how you leverage it, however, there are some approaches worth considering regardless of its makeup.

First, above all else, consider what unique value you can provide your connections when you decide how to start a blog. Approaching outreach to those in your network with this mindset can lead to some serious success.

It’s always about the value you can provide, not the value you want to receive. With this selfless mindset, you’re sure to eventually earn the return you are seeking:

Infographic for Scaling Growth Using Professional Influence - Be Selfless!

In summary, who among your connections would be open to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship? Write down those names and get to work contacting them.

This is a huge first step!

How the Best Blogs Perform Guest Post Outreach

It’s great to reach out to LinkedIn connections to see how you can work together, but it’s infinitely more impactful to reach out to identify high domain authority blogs who allow guest posting.

After all, the majority of the content that you’re going to be creating is guest posts that drive high domain authority backlinks back to your website, not writing new articles on your blog.

For a step-by-step outline on the guest blog outreach process – including free templates to use to write your emails – check out our in-depth article on content strategy and content marketing.

Evaluate the Demand of Your Blog Topics

Once you have established reader personas, determined the budget of these personas, and evaluated how you can leverage your network, the last step is to gauge the market demand as you’re thinking about how to start a blog.

The easiest way to gauge market demand for an idea is to use a keyword research tool like Google Search Console or Ahrefs.

Here are a few benchmarks to consider when evaluating the competition level of a keyword:

  • The keyword difficulty of the keyword you’re researching should be 40 or less.
  • The Global Search Volume of the keyword should ideally be 5,000 or more.
  • There should be at least one result on the first page of Google rankings for the keyword with a domain authority of less than 30.
  • The Search Engine Ranking Page (SERP) for the keyword should have seen some movement in the last six months. If new pages aren’t breaking into the first page with some level of consistency, this could be a very bad sign.
  • All of the pages in the SERP should have domain authorities less than 65.

Now, obviously, it’s a pretty perfect scenario if all five of these variables are true. If you’re hitting on at least three of the five variables, then you’re golden.

You can then have some confidence you could rank on Page 1 of the SERPs within a reasonable amount of time with some concerted effort to build backlinks and traffic.

How to Evaluate Keywords for Your Blog Topics

If you’re using Google Chrome, this Ahrefs SEO Toolbar, is a great way to quickly evaluate the domain authority of sites that come up in Google search as you consider how to start a blog.

We highly recommend Ahrefs, as it’s one of the best tools to use throughout your blogging journey. Ahrefs offers a 7-day trial for $7, which is well worth it for the wealth of information you’ll have at your fingertips to evaluate your niche.

Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s do some research on the keyword, topics to write about. Here’s the screenshot for that topic in Ahrefs:

Ahrefs dashboard for the search term topics to write about.

Let’s evaluate this term based on the criteria we mentioned above for competitiveness:

  • 39 Keyword Difficulty – Good – It’s under 40 so that’s a positive.
  • 11K Global Search Volume – Great! – It’s well over 5,000 global search volume, so definitely a topic that people search for.
Google search results for topics to write about.

A pretty solid start. Now let’s go to Google and search for the term to see how much domain authority the results on Page 1 have:

What the Data Is Telling Us About Your Potential Niche

Now, this looks promising! These are the first four listings below position zero in Google rankings for the keyword. Three of the four listings have a Domain Ranking (Authority) of less than 51 and only one is higher than 65 at 73. In short, this keyword is a winner and something you could structure a blog topic around. This same holds true when you’re looking for the primary keyword of your entire blog post.

Once you’ve identified your main keyword, click on “All Keyword Ideas” on the left sidebar in Ahrefs and it will pull back all of the other keywords related to your search:

Ahrefs keyword ideas screen for search topic.

Evaluating these keywords in the same way you evaluate the primary keyword is the next step. It’s great to have multiple keywords to use in your articles to position as well as possible for Google search, and earning organic traffic.

These secondary keywords are called LSI keywords, or semantic keywords. We’ll cover this in greater detail in future articles.

Doing Your Due Diligence When Starting a Blog Will Pay Off

Doing due diligence to determine the topic of your blog, and the articles you write is just the beginning of the journey.

Content strategy and content marketing strategy are vital to ensure the content you create gets traffic. Once you’ve established strong traffic, taking the right steps to make it work for you comes next.

You’re here because you want to make money blogging, and we’re here to help with the journey.

Looking to move a little faster?

Click here to schedule a free, one-on-one consultation and learn more about how taking courses in the Blog to Scale Training Academy helps to scale your growth!

You might be interested in …