Buckle in kids, because this is going to be a long one! Today I am compiling all of the need to know information for anyone wanting to become a professional blogger or social media influencer. After reading this ultimate how to guide, you will be well on your way to making your very own website and making money online doing something that you love!
*This post contains affiliate links. This means, if you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you*
Become a Professional Blogger
So you want to become a professional blogger… Maybe you have already created your website… You may have a free site but want to step up your game…Or maybe you are just starting out and have no idea what to do… Either way, I am going to walk you through the whole process…Step by step, giving you my personal tips and tricks that I have learned over my own professional blogging experience.
First Thing’s First
If you want to become a professional blogger, the first thing you need is an actual blog! There are a few ways to really start this process. You can create a free site on WordPress, but in all honesty, I would not recommend that option. While the free options can be alright, they have some serious downsides that will prevent you from making money with your blogging venture.
First, with a free site, you don’t own it! It can be shut down at any time and all of your content will be lost. You also will not be able to run ads on a free WordPress site, so that is one stream of revenue out the window. You also won’t be able to get sponsored posts. Companies just don’t work with bloggers with a .wordpress.com type site. They want to see that you have your own domain and a site that is not under the regulation of a third party.
I also would not recommend purchasing a WordPress premium option either. When I first started, I purchased the premium option and got a refund before my first 30 days were over. It just was not worth the price. Even when purchasing one of their premium options, you don’t own your domain and still can’t run ads on your site ( other than the WordPress ads that is). There is very few options in the way of customization as well. Many plugins I wanted to use, I couldn’t.. so I decided to just get my own hosting and domain.
Pick A Niche?
So if you have read my previous post on picking a niche, you will know my feelings on the topic. Personally, I don’t like being super held down by an extremely specific niche. That being said, you do want to keep a potential audience in mind! For me, it is moms. Moms who blog and want to work from home, and even those who don’t. I post a variety of topics, ranging from recipes, motherhood, and blogging tips…But I do it all with a specific audience in mind. My audience is “me”. Mothers like me who like to read about a whole host of different topics that apply to their daily lives.
In thinking about your audience, you will need to pick a name! I would recommend coming up with a few different options that you love just to make sure you desired domain name and social media handles are available! If your desired domain name is not available in the .com format, don’t fret! Mine wasn’t! I ended up using .net and have had zero issues when it comes to SEO or being easily found. I will say though. the .com version of my domain is unavailable, but inactive so that helps! Please, don’t create a name that is super close to someone else’s. It will hurt you in the long run for sure!
Getting Your Own Hosting and Domain
Since we have covered what I don’t recommend, let’s move on to what I do. First, get your own hosting! Probably the most popular options are Blue Host and SiteGround. Both of these are inexpensive options for starting out, and really great for new bloggers.
SiteGround in particular is extremely user friendly as well. They have wonderful customer service and prices starting at $3.95 a month! You can even purchase your domain name directly through the site as well. I like that you can basically do everything in one place and have all of your blogging startup needs met. They make it really easy to set up your site as well. With simple WordPress integration, and help from their reps you will have your site up in no time flat!
Especially for those who are not extremely tech savvy, going with SiteGround will make your life a lot easier. I myself am not technologically savvy, so I feel that pain! So go on and get everything in one place. Get it up and running and start the real fun part of blogging!
Make It Pretty
Okay, so this is really more of a personal preference, but once the site is up, you can look into getting themes! I started with a free theme, which is a wonderful option if you are just starting out. If you want something a little bit more amped up though, you have a whole host of purchasing options.
You can purchase a large number of themes from sites like StudioPress. I personally use the Genesis framework for my blog. With this, you will need to purchase Genesis and then purchase a compatible theme. These are one time purchases though and honestly, I think they are totally worth it! Having a really nice theme that is optimized for search engines and mobile browsing will help make you look more professional as a blogger. It sill also simply be more attractive to companies who are checking out your site and debating on working with you.
Along with your theme, you may want to create some branding. This means making a logo to match your brand. You can either do this yourself on Canva or Photoshop, or you can purchase custom ones through sites like Fivver and Upwork.
Plugins You Need
Alright, so now we have a website! It is custom, pretty, and ready to go! But, not so fast.. you are going to want a few plugins to that will make your life much easier! Oh, and did I mention these are free? Yup! Free! Keep in mind, that these are for WordPress blogs.
Google Analytics: This is super important to set up! It will tell you detailed information about your traffic.
Akismet Anti-Spam: No one wants spam!
Share A Holic: Technically, you don’t need this one specifically. You will need a good social sharing plugin though. Personally, I love Share A Holic because it is simple and easy to customize!
WP Super Cache: This will be a huge help with having your page load faster.
Yoast SEO: Yoast is my go to and a life saver when it comes to making sure my posts are SEO optimized.
There are more plugins that you can use, but aren’t as important. Ones that I personally love are MiloTree, the Pin It Button, Comment Luv and WP Recipe Maker. While not necessary, if you want to become a professional blogger, they will come in very handy!
Get the Right Equipment
It seems like everyone things that they need a crazy amount of expensive equipment in order to become a professional blogger. I am here to tell you that this is not the case! You can start with just the basics and upgrade from there!
Really all that you need to start is a computer and a cell phone! That is all I had in the beginning! Eventually, I did upgrade my computer and to a nice camera, but those can come later ( and bonus, they can be considered tax deductible business expenses).
I will say, My Cannon 80 D was the best investment I made! It has allowed me to take amazing photos and do really high quality video. as it expensive? Yes, painfully so…But it was totally worth it in the long run!
If you are just starting out though, just save your money and wait until you feel your business can afford to pay for the upgraded equipment.
Woo Congratulations! You have created your first blog, but what do you do now? Well, it is time to start creating content! I would advise that you have your site private until you are completely ready to launch!
Personally, I started with one post…but I do not recommend you follow suit. It will look much better if you have about 5 posts already on your site when you launch. So start thinking of post ideas and what you want to write about! The beauty of becoming a professional blogger is that you have the freedom to write about anything you want!
On my blog, I created categories to sort my post types. If this is something you want to do, then I would say to have at least 1 post in each category when you go live!
How Long Should My Content Be?
Depending on who you ask, you will get different answers. I personally like to have a mix of short and long posts. For short posts though, you never want it to be under 300 words for SEO purposes. If you are creating shorter posts, make sure they are packed with information and lacking all “fluff”. Short, sweet, and to the point works really well for craft posts and recipes. People want to get the information and get out.
If you are creating longer posts, 1,000 words or more, you can have some fluff but try not have too much. The people who are going to stay and read your mini-novel want to get the most information possible out of their experience with you.
Your best bet is to do what feels right to you with each post. If you find yourself filling your posts with filler just to reach a certain word count, it may be time to reevaluate the direction in which you are going.
Focus on SEO
Remember when I told you to get the Yoast plugin? Well, this is why! It will make your focus on making your posts search engine friendly MUCH more simple. I will admit, I am not a SEO ( search engine optimization) genius, but by using some helpful tips and making use of Yoast, I have been able to get organic search traffic to my site.
This is super important because it will help you rank in search engines. While social media will be your bestie, you need to be real close with Google as well. Think about it this way, if social media sites were to close down…There would still be search engines! Google is the go to for people searching for random information, and you want to be there to offer up what you have!
If you want to dive deeper into the world of SEO, there are a bunch of beginner friendly resources here that will help you a ton!
All About Social Media
Almost as important as SEO when it comes to becoming a professional blogger, is your Social Media. Social media is everything these days, and if you can master even one platform you will be well on your way to greatness. Now, some people will tell you to focus on one platform at a time, which may work for you. I jumped in head first and started all of my blogging profiles at once! Personally, I like the versatility, and brands do want you to have a presence across all platforms for sponsored campaigns as well. You don’t have to focus on growing all of them at one time, but I would say it is important to at least have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
I would recommend you use the same name as your domain for your social media handles. This will help with keeping with branding and continuity. It is okay to change it up some though as sometimes your desired handle isn’t available on all platforms. Honestly, not all of mine are exactly the same, but they are close enough and go together well. They are all offshoots of The Coffee Mom, except for my Twitter. I had that account forever and it is actually my maiden name! Probably not the best, but I have not had any issues with it at all!
Let’s start with the basics first. Pretty much, everyone has a Facebook, making this an excellent option for advertising your new blog! You will want to create a page specifically for your blog/business. It is super simple! Just go to pages, and create page! Once you have it created, you can start by inviting your own personal friend to like it. I know some people don’t want their personal friends knowing about their blogging ventures, but this is a great way to start an audience ( if they are your target audience type that is).
When it comes to what you share, you will want to share a large variety of posts on your Facebook page. Of course, you will want to share your own content from your blog. This isn’t the only thing you want to share though! I have found that sharing 3 times a day works wonders with growing your reach. My rule of thumb:
- My own content
- Someone else’s content
- Viral video
Facebook favors content that does not take you off of Facebook. I.e. posts with no links. So if you want to really grow your reach, sharing viral videos that can be watched right in the platform is key!
Facebook also favors video, especially live video! It is okay if you do’t feel comfortable with video yet, but when you are you should really get in on it! I will post a video to my Facebook page, and i can immediately notice an increase in my reach. Also, if you “go live” Facebook will notify followers that you are live to draw them to watch you!
Another wonderful way to help promote your blog on Facebook is to create your own group! No matter what your niche, there is a group that you can create! A food group, mom group, gaming group, beauty group…the options are limitless. Groups tend to have higher reach and better conversion rates than pages alone. Pages are being cracked down on and organic reach is hard…but people who join your group tend to truly want to be there and hear what you have to say.
I created a group for bloggers, and it has grown quite a bit in the few months it has been live. It helps not only drive traffic to my site, but allows me to make real connections with other like-minded bloggers!
So if you really have the desire to become a professional blogger, I highly recommend you create a Facebook group!
Just so you know, Pinterest is my absolute favorite”social media” platform for driving blog traffic. Most people have a Pinterest account, which is great for us bloggers! I have an entire post on Pinterest for bloggers, so I won’t get too deep into detail here but there are a few things you can do to start making use of this awesome platform.
First, just make sure you have a business account. It is free and easy and you can convert your personal account over with ease! No need to make a new account, just use what you’e got! The business account will allow you to have analytics which will come in extremely handy here in a moment.
You also need to have 1 board just for the pins from your blog. I have The Coffee Mom board that has all of the pins directly from my site. Other than that, make a TON of boards. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people ask if they should ONLY have boards that are niche specific, and to that I say NO! Have ones your audience would be interested in, but they don’t have to be just super specific boards! I have tons of boards, and it works well for me.
You should also be trying to join group boards! These are boards with many contributors. Typically, you will pin to and from these boards, as will the rest of the contributors! This gets your pins to a larger number of people, not just your followers! If you need to find some group boards, you can check out Pingroupie or ask on the wall of any Facebook groups you are in.
Since you have a business account now, you should be making use of the analytics! Here is the thing, Pinterest favors content that has higher repin and impression numbers! One thing I like to do, is to make sure I regularly repin those pins that are high up on my analytics to relevant group boards. This helps keep the momentum of these pins going which leads to an increase in page views!
Finally, it is always helpful to use pin schedulers. The two most popular are Tailwind and Boardbooster. I personally use, and love Boardbooster. You can schedule, loop pins, and it is extremely user friendly. For only $5 a month, I have found it totally worth the cost! So if you want to become a professional blogger, Pinterest is for sure a must have!
One thing to keep in mind is that Pinterest is more of a Search Engine than a true social platform. You can learn more about Pinterest specific SEO if you want to really boost your traffic!
I will admit, Twitter is not my strong suit but I have still been able to use it somewhat successfully. Remember when I said above you don’t have to be perfect at all of the social media channels in order to become a professional blogger? Well, my Twitter is a prime example of this! I’ve been able to increase my following ( slowly) and make connections with brands and other influencers, it just isn’t my fave.
I have done a few things to help my following out though. For one, make use of hashtags! These are super important on Twitter. I also make sure to follow and engage with people within my niche! Just try to make friends with similar accounts by following, liking, and retweeting! If anyone is a Twitter master, I would love to hear from you in the comments!
Other than Pinterest, Instagram is my favorite social platform! I even did an entire post on becoming an Instagram influencer if you are interested in some more in depth information.
Instagram is fun because for me, I use it as an ” inside look” into my life. Where my blog is my professional outlet, Instagram is more personal.
As far as followers goes, it is super important to follow. like, comment and genuinely engage with others in your niche! I like to follow other mom bloggers that I truly enjoy. From there, I look through THEIR followers and engage with them as well. The thought is that if they follow the one account, they will likely enjoy my content as well!
I also recommend using all 30 available hashtags in your posts to get more exposure to your posts. Make sure you are using a mix of large and small hashtags, and don’t forget to change them up on every post. Instagram doesn’t like when you use the same exact hashtags every time!
Another important thing to remember is to make use of stories and going live! just like Facebook, the algorithm favors the newest additions and will give your posts favor when using them. Use hashtags and tags in your stories as well to get even more exposure! My favorite thing about the stories though, is the swipe up link addition! You need to have 10K followers AND a business account to use it, but once you get there you will be in love with how much it can help your blog traffic!
I could probably go on and on about Instagram forever, but that would make this post way too long so be sure to check out my other Instagram specific resources!
My newest venture in becoming a professional blogger is venturing into the world of YouTube. This is a whole new beast, but so far it is really enjoyable! Video is everything in the world of influencing right now, so if you want to make it you need to be making use of this. While I am by no means a YouTube expert, I was able to find some really helpful information here.
Personally, I use mine to make videos that correlate with my blog posts. I then embed them into the posts themselves to give an extra level of helpfulness to my readers! Video really is the way of the future so I would advise that anyone wanting to make money as an influencer at least make some videos to go along with other content.
As far as promotion goes, you can share your YouTube videos on your other channels, and even make pins that lead directly to your videos!
Woo, now everything is set up and you are on your way to become a professional blogger! The next step in the process is to get some traffic! Now, if you don’t get thousands or even hundreds of visitors at first, I don’t want you to get discouraged! You need to remember that this is a LONG HAUL plan, not a get rich quick scheme. Blogging and building traffic takes a lot of time and work, but it can be so rewarding.
I have a few different in depth resources on getting traffic to your blog for beginners, but I did want to touch on a few of my favorite techniques here.
We didn’t just spend the above time taking about social media for no reason. It is an awesome way to get your content out there and get traffic to your site! So share, comment, like, follow, ect…and just get your content out there! Make use of as many channels as you can handle and just do it! It may seem like no one is reading at first, but I promise it gets better.
Use Facebook groups to your advantage. It can be niche specific groups, blogger groups, or your own group! I recommend using a mix of all three. Make sure you read the riles of any group that isn’t yours, but they are awesome ways to get your content out there. I talk mush more about how to use Facebook groups for traffic here!
A recently discovered favorite of mine to drive traffic is forums! I personally love Quora and use it daily now. Quora, along with other forums, allow you to interact with like minded people, ask, and answer questions. When you use forums to promote your blog, make sure you are answering questions that are relevant to your site and that you are giving genuine and helpful feedback.
I have my blog link on my Quora profile, and I even republish ( small portions) of my blog posts on their blog section. Typically, I will make a small similar post to something I have written about, post it on my Quora blog, and at the end have a ” click here to read more” which redirects readers to my actual blog article.
Did you know that other bloggers will have other bloggers post on their blog? Yup, guest posting is amazing! You can guest post for someone, or have guest posters on your blog. When you post for others, sometimes they pay, sometimes they don’t, but the money isn’t what we are talking about here (yet).
When guest posting on another blog or trying to find someone to post on yours, you first need to make sure that you are posting for someone in the correct niche. You don’t want to post on a blog that has nothing to do with your own! While it may get page views, it won’t translate into long term repeat readers. If you are a mom blog, try to post on other mom blogs! A great one to try to get into would be Scary Mommy. You can also ask around in different Facebook Groups about trading guest posts.
This introduces your audience to a new blogger, and also introduces you to their audience! Total win win in my opinion.
Using this, and other forums, has been a wonderful way to get more targeted traffic to my site and I know it can work for you as well!
While those are 3 of my favorite ways to get traffic, you can learn about so many more ideas right here to really kick start your blog!
Start Making Money
Finally, we are getting to what you probably came here for right?!? How to start making money and really become a professional blogger. I want to start off by saying that this won’t happen overnight, but with work and time you will be making money with your blog in no time! If you are wondering what the first year in the life of a blogger looks like, you can see my first year and income report here.
Now, if you read my first year report, you will see that while I made my first little bit of money in a few months, I did not really start making an income until about 9 months in. Even then, it wasn’t steady, but every month it has continued to increase and that is exciting. I will not say it is easy, because I would never lie to you. What I can say though, is that the work is worth the reward.
Ways To Make Money
In the world of blogging, there are multiple ways to actually make money! Your best bet, is to do all of these, or at least more than on. Diversifying your income is key to becoming a professional blogger. I will say, certain income isn’t always steady, but if you diversify you will be more likely to have income coming in at all times!
My number one way that I personally make most of my money from blogging if through sponsored posts. A sponsored post is when a company pays you to tour their service or product on your blog. These can be extremely lucrative and get you from $100-$1,000 or even more per post. There are a few ways to find sponsored posts as well.
The first way, is to find sponsored posts through sponsored networks. There are so many of these networks that you can join, and they will connect you with brands that want to pay for promotion. Some have page view or follower requirements, but others do not. The benefit of working with a network is that a lot of the initial legwork is done for you. The network does a lot of the back end work and makes sure you are paid. Downside? The network does take a percentage off the top so what you are getting paid is not the entire amount that the company is willing to pay. I tend to do a lot of work with networks, and you can check out and join my favorites right here!
Pitching Brands Yourself
The second way to get sponsored posts is by reaching out to brands and pitching them your ideas. This is more work, but also more reward. you are basically cutting out the middle man and will get paid significantly more. Want to start pitching to brands? Check out this detailed article to tell you exactly what to do to start getting paid today!
Another way to make money with your blog is to run ads. You can either join an ad network, such as Google Adsense, Media Vine, or Media.Net… OR you can sell ad space on your own to companies for a monthly fee. Some of these networks, like Media Vine and Ad Thrive, will have page view or session requirements, but you are more than welcome to start with Google until you hit the higher threshold. Typically, this isn’t a way to make a ton of money at first, but as your views keep increasing, so too will your income!
Selling is something I have recently gotten into and let me tell you, it is awesome! There are so many ways you can go about this! If you are crafty, you can make your pwn products to sell. I totally wish I was this talented, but I am not.
Something I am personally in love with is Drop Shipping! First, I started a store with Woo Commerce and connected it to my blog. This was a free plugin and so far it has been working rather well. If you prefer, you can also go through Shopify. I am honestly thinking about switching to Shopify since my theme doesn’t work as well with Woo Commerce.. but we shall see what happens. After the shop is set up, you can find a Drop Shipping site to make your merch. I have been using Printiful and guys, it rocks! They have shirts, coffee cups, phone cases, and so much more that you can customize and sell in your store.
My favorite part about using Printful, is that I don’t have to have the product on hand! Now, I can order wholesale and do it myself, but that’s just too much for me haha. Basically, the way I have it set up is I create my ideas, put them in my store, and once they are purchased Printful takes care of the rest! This is probably one of the easiest ways I have found to make money with your blog.
You can also sell courses! These can be lucrative, but they are a lot of work. I am currently working on one and I promise, it is no small undertaking. But if you have a skill that you can share with others, then you can market that into a course and start generating income off of it. You can use sites like Teachable or other online learning sites, or you can fly solo ( which is what I am doing).
Affiliate marketing is another way I make money with my blog. Basically, I join an affiliate program, talk about a product I love and link to it. Then if someone makes a purchase I will get a commission from that purchase. This can be lucrative if done correctly! Some of my favorite Affiliate programs are right here:
Remember when we were talking about guest posting? Well did you know some places will PAY YOU to post on their site? Yes! You can get paid to post for other sites! All you really have to do is a quick google search and you will find tons of places that pay for freelancers to post for them. Elna from Twin’s Mommy has an awesome resource of places that pay right here!
PHEW! That was long! I told y’all it wasn’t going to be easy, or short….But it is so worth it! So if you want to become a professional blogger, all you have to do is jump in! Take the risk and get to it because the sky is the limit!
And if you are interested in making money with your blog, don’t forget to sign up for my FREE email course on making money with Sponsored Courses to get that PLUS a ton of free resources and updates right to your email!