Blogging is tough, they say. Fake it `til you make it, they say.
But the truth is you don’t have to lie or pretend to be someone you aren’t.
Even if you’re just starting out, you can still look like you know what you’re doing. No, not just look. Actually, know.
If you work through the steps below, you’ll learn a great deal in the process. You’ll take your blog to the next level. And your mindset as well.
Even if you might not be a pro blogger in the sense that you make a
You’ll build up your confidence. And sometimes it’s all it takes – for you to believe in yourself.
1 | Purchase your own domain name
When was the last time you looked up something online and a free hosting subdomain (like blogname.wordpress.com or blogname.weebly.com) showed up on the first page of Google?
It’s probably been years, and that’s because Google sees free hosting subdomains as low quality and their algorithm has caught up on this.
Your domain name is the first thing people see and an important part of your unique online identity and brand. Not only does a custom domain name (blogname.com) looks great on a business card. Your domain IS your business card wherever you go online.
Quick tips for choosing an amazing domain name:
- Make sure it’s easy to remember, relevant and unique
- Avoid using numbers, hyphens and other special characters
- Keep it short (under 15 characters)
- Say it out loud. Is it easy to say? Is it easy to spell?
- It’s brandable – it talks about your brand’s values, character and qualities without directly spelling it out
- Use your intuition. Does it feel in alignment with who you are and the topic of your blog?
- If .com is not available, explore other options, like .net, .org, .me, .photography, .travel, etc.
Purchasing a domain name is really inexpensive (usually around $10 a year). However, when you sign up for a hosting plan with Bluehost, your domain name is free for the first year.
2 | Choose a proper blogging platform
Probably this is the biggest mistake you can make as a blogger. It can hurt your search engine rankings, growth rate, and bottom line without you even realizing it.
When you start a free blog on a platform like WordPress.com, Wix, Weebly or Blogger, building your brand and growing an audience can be a pretty difficult (if not impossible) task.
Even if you purchase a custom domain while hosting your blog on a free platform, you will still be pretty limited in your choices.
That’s why everyone who’s anyone in the blogging world has a self-hosted blog. And while going self-hosted costs a little bit of money, it really isn’t all that expensive.
My web host, Bluehost, has plans starting at $2.95/month (and that includes a free domain for the first year, as I mentioned above).
With Bluehost being one of the most user-friendly hosting companies around, WordPress.org (the publishing platform) comes already installed on your account. This means they handle all the tech stuff behind the scenes for you so you can start growing your blog right away.
7 solid reasons why you should go self-hosted:
- Having a self-hosted blog means you own your content
- You can also run ads and keep 100% of the profits
- You can add extra functionality to your blog by installing plugins
- Plus you have total control over your brand and the looks of your blog
- You can better optimize your blog for SEO to show up more often in Google and reach more people
- You get a more secure platform which enables you to receive payments shall you decide to sell products right from your blog
- And yes, self-hosting means you have your own custom domain
If you need guidance setting up your hosting account, head on over to my super detailed tutorial on how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog.
But if you’ve been blogging on the free platform, I’ll show you how to move WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.org without losing any of your content.
3 | Avoid writing embarrassment
Today you’re tired, so a ‘then’ becomes ‘than’ and an ‘of’ becomes ‘on’. Tomorrow you’re busy and only have a few minutes to write a quick post, so you end up with sentences so long you’d make James Joyce proud.
There’s no secret that t
Your readers’ attention is probably already divided. The dog is barking for no particular reason, and a mouthwatering pizza commercial is on TV.
Your posts have to be easy to read, engaging, and add real value. The reader shouldn’t have to go over a sentence multiple times to understand its meaning. In other words, your blog has to be better than pizza!
A few years ago I discovered Grammarly, an easy to use online grammar checker for proofreading blog posts and even books! It comes as a Chrome extension and when active it checks for grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes as you type.
It also detects plagiarism by comparing your writing to billions of pages across the web. And it checks your writing style, readability score, and sentence length so you can become a better writer.
I highly recommend Grammarly and I think every blogger should use it. It has a free as well as a premium version which is well worth the upgrade. However, if you can’t afford it right now, for the love of proper grammar, make sure you install the free extension at the very least.
4 | Start building your brand
The idea is to make your blog look as put together as possible. Of course, this doesn’t have to happen overnight. But the sooner you start nurturing your personal brand the faster your blog will grow.
If you don’t have it clear already and your blog is all over the place and confusing the heck out of everyone (including yourself!), try to figure out what you want to blog about and who you want to serve first.
Then it’s time to start building your brand from the ground up.
How to build a strong personal brand:
- Pick 2 main colors and up to 4 secondary colors that set the mood for your blog.
- Choose a gorgeous blog theme that communicates your message with ease. Once installed, personalize the theme with your brand colors. The Bluchic themes are ideal for beginners and just perfect for all kinds of lifestyle blogs. FoodiePro is ideal for food blogs, just like its name suggests, plus it’s one of the most popular themes in the world.
- Get a small logo or a large header that stretches the full width of the page, depending on what your theme asks for. Fiverr is a great place to get your logo professionally-designed and on a budget. My favorite logo designer is DigitalBarbie.
- Have a blog style guide. Use the same image size for all your post thumbnails. Create pins that have the same look and feel. Stick with your brand colors and typography. Consistency really pays off. You can use Canva or PicMonkey for this!
- Use graphics that are on-brand. Avoid grainy, crappy pics and badly lit shots at all costs. If photography is not your thing, look for stock photos that match your blog’s look and feel. My favorite sites for stock photos are Styled Stock Society and SC Stockshop.
- Don’t clutter your blog with unnecessary plugins and widgets. Here are my tips for a perfectly organized and clutter-free blog.
A personal brand is important because it helps you build confidence while gaining your readers’ trust. It makes you feel more authentic. And ultimately, it has the power to make you look like an expert.
5 | Plan for success
You’ve heard this before – if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. And it couldn’t be truer when it comes to blogging.
Maybe you wonder how on earth researching content ideas and scheduling pins ahead of time will make you look like a pro. This is the kind of stuff you do behind the scenes after all and nobody will ever know whether you wrote your ideas down or juggled them in
And on a good day, you might get away with it. But you need to prepare for the other kind of days, the ones when you just don’t feel like blogging, or you have no clue what to tackle next and feel blissfully adrift.
It’s essential that you set goals and have a to-do list and an editorial calendar in place, so you stay consistent. Tracking your progress and finances is a necessity. Planning ahead your giveaways and guest posts and scheduling your product launches is the way to a more productive and organized you.
You can do all this and much more with the help of the Smart Blog Planner.
The story behind the Smart Blog Planner
I created the Smart Blog Planner because I was tired of winging it. I used to wake up in the morning not having a plan for the day. So instead of doing what had to be done next (like writing a post or promoting my content), I’d usually end up tweaking the design because it was the easy thing to do.
At some point, I began to put together worksheets to help better structure my days and create a business plan. I didn’t expect them to be a big deal nor to change my life for the better. However, the more I used them, the clearer the path before me became.
I started being more organized and focused and developed a boss lady mindset. Yet, instead of a stiff pencil skirt, I was wearing colorful yoga pants and feeling great.
The more I outlined a course of action and stuck with it, the less I felt the need to be a total helicopter mom towards my business. I also started to notice pockets of free time here and there.
Seeing how big an impact these worksheets had on my own daily life I knew I had to share them with you. So I bundled them up in a pretty planner, undated, and binder-friendly. And this is how the Smart Blog Planner was born. You can grab yourself a copy here and take control of your blog and life as well!
6 | Get a custom email address
If using a free hosting subdomain is unprofessional, an email address that looks like [email protected] looks just plain lazy.
Most reputable hosting companies will give you the option to set up a custom email account ending in your own domain. So when you contact a brand, you do it from [email protected] and not your personal Gmail.
If you host your blog with Bluehost, I explain how you can get a personalized email account here.
Once you have it, I recommend you also set up Gmail to check and send emails as your custom email address.
I love this because you can then access your email anywhere, like a regular Gmail account but it’s all with your domain.
7 | Be consistent
Wanna know what’s one of the biggest challenges bloggers face? CONSISTENCY. A lack thereof, to be precise.
You start your blog bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and it’s all unicorns and rainbows until 5 minutes later when you run into your first tech issue.
Or you get stuck not knowing what to focus on first – write more content or build your email list.
And then you push yourself to the brink of exhaustion by the end of
Unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario that leads to repeated mini breaks. And although these might be a much-needed act of self-care (especially if you also have a full-time job or tiny humans to keep alive), the truth is that doing this won’t help you get where you want to go any faster.
So listen up, dream-chaser! You need to find the motivation to put out content consistently. You cannot disappear on your audience for months at a time because people will move on and you’ll have to start from zero again.
Repeatedly starting from zero is NOT fun.
So forget about crazy a** schedules (you really don’t have to tweet 15 times a day!).
Find your own rhythm and stick with it.
If that means sending out an email newsletter every other week, that’s awesome. As long as you show up and your readers learn your cadence, they will show up for you as well.
8 | Make sure your blog is marked as secure
The internet is this marvelous thing, and we turn to it for everything, from selling to buying and learning. But with great power comes great responsibility. And online security has become a necessity.
Google wants people to feel safe. So a couple of years ago they started flagging every website that didn’t have a valid SSL certificate as ‘not secure‘.
What on earth is an SSL certificate, you might ask? Basically, it’s a way to make sure all the sensitive data your readers introduce on your blog (like email addresses and payment info) is secure from prying eyes.
So if you have as little as a newsletter sign up form on your blog, you need an SSL certificate.
If you’re not sure whether you have one or not, open your blog in the browser and see if the URL starts with
However, if your blog’s URL starts with
If you host your blog with Bluehost, see how to activate your free SSL certificate.
9 | Work on your mindset
It’s enough that entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff, hoping to fly. You don’t need your own mind sabotaging you every step of the way as well.
Take time to lay the groundwork for success. Set fearless goals. Deal with the scarcity mindset.
This means asking questions whenever you feel stuck. And investing in your education if necessary. Sometimes it can feel like a huge battle about whether you are worth the investment or not. YOU ARE WORTH IT! Don’t ever question that.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel just because the one somebody else is generously handing you costs a little bit of money. Your time is precious and you can use it in more constructive ways than cracking the Amazon affiliate code on your own. I already did the legwork for you.
Or figuring out a way to drive traffic to your blog. My friend Ana has written a super helpful eBook on this.
And if you want to know how to make money asap, Elise shows you how to make your first affiliate sale on Pinterest in as little as 24 hours!
You might also wonder whether you should start monetizing your blog right away. Yes, yes you should! Here’s how to get started with affiliate marketing. And here are other ways to make money blogging.
The truth is that you don’t need a gazillion page views to build a successful blog. What you need is confidence. If you believe in yourself, others will too!
10 | Write your about, contact & legal pages
If you don’t have an about me page already, you should write one asap. There you can tell people a bit about who you are and why you do what you do.
Also, add a professional photo of your pretty smiling face. Don’t settle for a selfie. Instead, ask your spouse or a friend to take a photo of you in good light. And dress to impress.
On your contact page let readers and brands know how they can reach out to you. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Simply include a list of your social networks, your email address and maybe a blurb encouraging them to get in touch.
You can also include a form (requires a plugin), but no everybody is a fan, plus forms can fail and you might never get that super important email.
Last but not least, add a privacy & cookies policy as well as a disclosure page. I talk more about these in my post, how to launch a blog with a bang, because these are pages you should have right from the start.
But many bloggers get so overwhelmed with the myriad of things they have to do in the beginning, that the legal bits usually slip through the cracks.
Woohoo! You just solved some pretty huge problems you might have had with your blog and are well on your way to becoming a pro blogger! Way to go!
THINGS TO READ NEXT
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- How To Use MailerLite To Grow Your Email List Lightning Fast
- 3 Non-Spammy Ways to Build Your Email List Crazy FAST
Hey there dream chaser! I’m a writer, designer and the creator of The Smart Blog Planner and Perfectly Productive Planner. I’m on a mission to inspire and empower you to create a highly profitable minimalist online business and show up for your dreams in a sustainable way.