Blogging is an amazing opportunity. It can take a lot of upfront work, but the payoff is awesome. There are plenty of bloggers making full time incomes just on the side. So let’s learn how to set up a successful, traffic-generating site. Welcome to blogging for creative entrepreneurs – your complete starter kit.
I’ve structured everything into four main parts. Each section is crucial and covers the core elements of successful blogging.
This post actually mimics the exact process I use for my own websites – and also the same strategies used when I work with big brand companies across various industries.
So rest assured, if you work your way through this guide, you’ll have everything you need for a great blog.
OK enough chitchat, let’s get it!
Part 1: Getting Ready
Part 2: My Content Strategy
Part 3: Writing for Success
Part 4: Making Money + Inspiration
Let’s start things out nice and easy.
An introduce and review of modern blogging and its benefits.
These questions (and more) are all answered below, and provide inspiration and motivation – the perfect starting point.
So let’s dive in.
What Is Modern Blogging
Blogging has gone through a lot of phases. But one thing’s for sure, it’s reached maturity.
What used to be stereotyped as a sort of hobby-writing concept – fraught with meh designs and meh content – is a completely different beast now.
Blogging is aesthetically pleasing and serves as a core marketing channel for entrepreneurs and industries of all sizes and verticals.
It’s passive. It’s highly-functional. And it’s a key asset for creative entrepreneurs – something that shouldn’t be skipped.
So what is modern blogging?
Blogging simply means online writing through a website for a specific audience.
News sites, personal blogs, industry articles and review posts are all examples of blogging.
Modern blogs are visually appealing, have easy navigation, are optimized for a mobile experience and add great value for the reader.
Modern blogging encapsulates the power of content marketing and growing an audience online.
Through it, site owners reach exactly the right person at exactly the right time.
Who This Post Is For
Technically, blogging is for everyone – and every business. But this post definitely pivots to the creative entrepreneurs.
A creative entrepreneur is someone who leverages their creativity or unique skillset and tools for market and business value.
So why creative entrepreneurs, you ask? Simply put, because I’m a creative entrepreneur myself.
I’m an active member of your group. I’m a creative, a solopreneur and have a love for applying my creative interests online.
This post is for:
- Artist’s + Musicians
- Photographers + Filmmakers
- Freelancers + Solopreneurs
- Artisans and Crafters
- Anyone Who’s Combining Creativity + Entrepreneurship
Creative entrepreneurs: we’re a big basket of identities.
But rest assured, you’ve found the right place to learn blogging.
7 Reasons to Start A Blog
I’ve hinted at some benefits to blogging already. Let’s talk specifics.
There are a ton of awesome reasons to start a blog. Here are some of my favorite reasons to get started today.
It's Simple + Free
Blogging wasn’t always as accessible as it is today. We now have access to various platforms, templates and tutorials – all for free!
Whether it’s side hustle, a marketing channel, or just your personal site, it’s more simple and affordable than ever before to start blogging.
It's Super Rewarding
Starting a blog is extremely rewarding. This comes back to the pride of creating something – anything – that wasn’t there before.
When you’re adding value to people, and create something meaningful, there’s no better feeling.
As I write this post, I’m sitting in Seoul, South Korea…on a beautiful Saturday…writing a blog post.
But honestly, I’m having a blast. Blogging, although motivation comes and goes, is overall a super fun process.
It Creates Passive Wealth
OK yea this is a big one for a lot of people: money. Starting a blog as a means for generating passive, sustainable wealth is a fantastic benefit to blogging.
It requires a lot of upfront work (like anything meaningful), but if you do it right, the fruits of your labor await – it’s definitely not “too late”.
It Creates Value
Adding value to the market is the cornerstone of good, successful marketing and business. And it feels really good to be solving problems for people.
Blogging is one of the best tools for creating free, awesome value for your audience. You can monetize in various ways of course, but the core focus of giving first is a big benefit.
It's A Marketable Skill
When I first started this blog, I didn’t exactly know what I was doing. I had taken courses, studied up and watched hundreds of hours of YouTube. Still, it was a learning process.
But I got better. And it created opportunities for me to work in the marketing field, where I learned even more.
Finally, it gave me the ability to grow my own brand and become a successful creative entrepreneur. This is an awesome skill to have.
It's Grows A Business Online
A big benefit – or reason – to start a blog is to generate free traffic to your site.
There are whole businesses built on the shoulders of blogging. It’s a truly powerful growth strategy that runs 24/7 – it’s sort of an automated traffic machine.
Part 1: Getting Things Ready
Now that we’ve got some inspiration from part one, let’s get things ready for blogging.
Technically, we can just jump in and start writing. But we should be more intentional. There are just a few more housekeeping items to take care of.
Welcome to part two of starting a successful blog.
Defining Your Goals
Why are you starting a blog?
It’s a basic, it’s foundational. It’s a good question.
Identifying your goals and purpose provides a lot guidance to your decisions and writings.
A simple strategy for identifying your goal(s) is using the SMART goals framework. Your goals should be:
Goals can change and evolve. You may not have it all figured out straight away – maybe you just want to simply “grow a brand and get followers”.
That’s fair and perfectly fine.
But just keep this idea of purpose in the back of your mind.
Revisit your goals from time to time and include them in your main theme – or brand – of your blog and website.
(did I just hashtag my own blog? Yep, no shame…)
Researching Your Niche + Audience
Now we’re getting into the good stuff – the more tangible first steps of having a a successful blog.
It is essential that you clearly identify your niche and your target audience(s).
Your niche is fairly obvious and straightforward, but brushing over audience research or assuming you just “know them” is a common mistake.
Let’s be sure we don’t do that.
What Is Your Niche?
You likely already know what your niche is. It’s probably the reason you decided to become a creative entrepreneur in the first place.
But let’s take it one step further.
Let’s think about your niche dynamics and relevant sub-niches (this will come in handy later, when we discuss content siloing).
Researching your niche + sub-niches
Every niche will have sub-niches, or smaller groups within a larger market.
Let’s use this website as an example.
My core niche is creatives and solopreneurs. But this is still pretty general.
So I’ve further segmented by core niche into various sub-niches: graphic designers; artists and musicians; handmade jewelry makers; and more.
If you explore my site a bit, you’ll notice I have a lot of niched-down articles, exclusive to each of these sub-niches.
I also have longer, “ultimate” guides (like this post). But these cover the big topics of my site theme (digital marketing) and apply to everyone in my core niche.
I dig deeper into this concept below (the content siloing section).
You definitely don’t want to skip that part (content siloing will be one of the best things you can do for your blog).
Who Is Your Audience?
Let’s make a buyer persona.
These are incredibly helpful and insightful for gauging your target market and who they are exactly.
A buyer persona is an outline of your ideal customer’s interests, demographics and personalities.
Researching this information can reveal a lot and it’s good practice to do this frequently. Here are some common parts of a good buyer persona:
- Interests and hobbies
- Fears and pain points
- People they look up to and follow
- Their values and beliefs
- Where they live and spend their time online
- Demographic information
- Education level
- Income and job information
How to Research Your Audience
We’ll need to do some proper audience research if we want to accurately fill out our buyer personas.
Luckily, places like Google and Facebook make this pretty simple. Let’s use Facebook to do some quick audience research.
- Go to the Facebook Business Manager
- If you don’t have an account set up, it’s simply to do – and totally free
- Go to the Insights tab
- Click on the Audience tab
- Choose Potential audience
- Click on the Filter button
- Fill in some general information about your audience
- See the main screen populate with data and start your research
Choosing the Best Blogging Platform
There are a ton of blogging platforms for you to choose from. But is there a “best” option?
It’s hard to say.
So let’s walk through how to choose the best blogging platform for you and your goals.
Is There A "Best" Blogging Platform?
It’s difficult to answer and there are lots of opinions on the topic.
Overwhelmingly, many people will tell you that WordPress is the best blogging platform. And I get it.
It boasts powerful SEO capabilities and offers a lot of customization and control..
This site is built on WordPress.
But I also use Squarespace for my core brand Jake Y’ou. And these articles are ranking just fine.
Here are a few popular choices and who they’re suitable for.
4 Popular Blogging Platforms
- A gold standard for blogging
- If your main goal is blogging, this is your best bet
- A slight learning curve, but a lot of plugins and tutorials to make things easier
- This site, my primary blog, is on WordPress
- The most beginner-friendly platform; a low-friction learning tool
- Good for beginners who don’t want to learn too many technicals and blogging is just a small part of your overall marketing and business
- A lot of third-party app integrations and diverse functionality
- I started my online adventures here, and built my first websites using Wix
- Super popular for artists and creatives, a perfect place for your portfolio
- Perfect for creatives and solopreneurs who want to blog and prefer minimalism for their website
- I use SQSP for my personal (music, art, film) brand site
- This is perfect for posting blogs – without actually having a blog
- It’s a community site where anyone can post content
- Posting a blog on LinkedIn is very similar
- I would use Medium to occasionally re-post blogs from here (extending my reach)
Part 2: Blogging Basics + A Great Content Strategy
This part includes three key concepts for my blogging strategy (and other successful businesses and blogs).
When I first started my blog, I stumbled around a lot, and somehow missed these key concepts.
These are the things I wish I knew when I first started blogging and have been instrumental in making my blog more successful.
I’ve touched on this concept a bit already. But it was one of the biggest aha! moments in my whole blogging journey.
This concept will take your blog from beginner to pro in the quickest and smoothest way.
Big promise – I know. But it’s seriously super helpful. So let’s start with a definition. What’s a content silo?
Content siloing essentially means you’re building out your site’s architecture. It’s strategic and organized (and Google loves it).
So let’s explore how to silo your content.
What Content Siloing Looks Like (+ how to do it)
I often use a tree analogy to visualize how content siloing works and what it looks like for blogging.
Here’s the basic hierarchy:
- The tree trunk is your main niche
- The tree branches are your content silos
- The tree’s leaves are your content clusters
- The tree branches are your content silos
Let’s use this site as an example.
My main niche is creatives and solopreneurs. This group represents the tree trunk. Branching off from this main niche, I have various sub-niches.
These groups represent my content silos and include sub-niches like artists, musicians, graphic designers, photographers – and many more.
Around each of these content silos are groups of related articles for each audience, referred to content clusters.
All of my longer, “ultimate guide” type of blogs belong to my main niche and are collectively called pillar posts.
This article is a pillar post. It contains information relevant for my whole niche, and I can easily link back to it from smaller, more niche blog posts (i.e., content clusters).
Topic Discovery (made easy)
Topic discovery is a logical starting point for blogging. What should I write about?
But, there really is an art to this ideation phrase. And sometimes we hit the wall of “what do now?”.
So, here are some simple (but powerful) strategies for discovering endless ideas for blog topics.
Down the Google Rabbit Hole We Go
I mean, who else do we turn to when we need an answer to something?
Maybe it’s no surprise, but Google is the leading search engine and as such, has a ton of data on what people are searching for on a daily basis.
And we can tap into that data for free. Here’s how.
- Start with a main, seed keyword idea in the search bar
- For example “blogging…“.
- Next, start typing in a letter
- Any letter will do (“blogging a…” or “blogging g…“).
- Or, try a prepositional phrase, such as “blogging for…“
- Explore all the suggested searches
- Down the rabbit hole we go…
This is powerful. This is Google saying “hey, a lot of other people are searching for these phrases“.
Not only is this an effective keyword research strategy (more on that later), but it’s great way to come up with blog topics.
Further exploring the first page results and the People also ask... or Related searches… features takes you further down the rabbit hole.
Pro tip? Organize and make a list (I just use Google Docs).
Use Topic Discovery Tools
AnswerThePlubic is an SEO research tool, and creates a visual display of related topics and questions people are searching for in Google.
It’s a treasure trove of ideas and blog topics. And their visual display of topics and keywords is what sets them apart. Definitely worth checking out.
BuzzSumo is a content marketing tool that has longstanding reputation and an easily recognizable brand within the marketing space.
They have a lot of useful content tools, but one of them, Content Discovery, gives you trends, ideas and more – perfect if you’re looking for some inspiration.
SEMrush is another powerful keyword research tool, with a ton of cool features.
The one that stands out for ideation and topic discovery is their Topic Research tool. It could be just what you need for your next article idea!
INK is a really cool, uner-the-radar blogging tool. It’s great at helping you write articles, analyze their SEO value, create better outlines and things of blog titles.
But for our purpose here, I’m referring to their Blog Ideas Topic Generator. It’s a pretty cool tool worth checking out if you’re feeling stumped.
Expand On Existing Posts
Every time I start writing, I have a tendency to write a lot. I think my average post length is around 3000 words (longer for my pillar posts!).
Naturally, there are a ton of topics and information that I can’t explain fully within each article.
After all, 3000 words is long enough – not everyone wants to read a novel.
So we split them into separate blogs, and interlink between them.
This is not just great for topic discovery. It further solidifies your blog’s architecture and boosts your keyword ranking opportunities.
Keyword Research (made easy)
Good keyword research is the foundation to good blogging.
Without it, we’d just be writing aimlessly, throwing articles at a wall hoping something sticks (i.e. ranks).
So let’s be sure we’re doing this part right. Here’s my 3-part strategy for keyword research.
1. Start With Google
First things first, let’s start exploring topics in Google.
Using the autosuggest feature, start collecting potential phrases (write them down verbatim as they appear in Google search).
A good rule of thumb for new blogs is to focus on niche phrases that are longer and more specific.
These are often referred to as long tail keywords and they usually have less competition. The logic here is pretty straightforward.
We can’t expect to rank for highly competitive keywords straight away. We need to establish site credibility, rank and authority first.
We do this by putting out a lot of value-adding content, targeting lower volume, long tail keywords.
Over time, these add up and get you a lot of monthly site visitors. So just be patient, stay the course and trust the process.
2. Check the Volume With A Keyword Tool
Next, I like to check the actually search volume (even though Google is telling me it has at least some volume).
Here is where we use keyword research tools. But just remember to take the numbers as estimations.
If you cross reference the same keyword across all tools, you’ll find that each tool spits out a different volume. Still, they’re helpful for confirming high-value keywords.
Here are five keyword research tools I use (you can hop between them to use up the free monthly searches):
$ Tip Jar $
You can get Jaaxy Lite for free with a Wealthy Affiliate (WA) membership – this is what I do.
WA provides mentorship, blog hosting and more.
It’s actually pretty awesome if you want someone to take you by the hand with blogging.
3. Head Back to Google: Audit the Competition and Explore Search Intent
OK, there’s one more step before we dive in and start writing our blog post. We should head back to Google and analyze the SERP (search engine results page).
If the results are full of bigger, well-established, big-brand websites – leaders in your industry – then you likely won’t rank for these. This keyword is competitive.
Look for keywords whose first-page rankings have sites with longer, “busy” URLs, personal blogs and articles that are short, unhelpful or just not very good.
Similarly, open the currently ranking articles and get ideas for what to write about. Look at the topics discussed and main headline.
This can guide your outline. This is what people are usually expecting to read about when searching for your keyword.
If you see an opportunity to make something better than what’s currently ranking for your keyword, then that’s a good sign you’ve found an opportunity.
Note: Although competitive keywords are difficult to rank for, this doesn’t mean you should ignore them altogether. These keywords are perfect for pillar posts – posts which you can recommend and send your on-site traffic to (the on-site traffic you got from targeting low-competition keywords).
Part 3: Writing + Formatting for Success
Welcome to part three!
The sections below are all about optimizing and writing your blog content so it can actually rank in Google.
I’ve included all the best practices, key strategies and core tips for making sure that Google (and other search engines) not just understand, but love, your blog.
SEO (search engine optimization) isn’t actually all that difficult to learn. Although it can get advanced, if you follow just a few key rules, that’s enough to start getting ranked.
I basically adhere to a minimalist SEO strategy, but it works. And I know plenty of other bloggers and entrepreneurs do the same thing.
So here’s a quick start guide of how I do SEO (I’ve also provided a link to my full SEO and content strategy below).
Your Main Title
The first place to put your target keyword is in the title. Simple enough.
It’s also good practice to keep the key phrase closer to the front. Although there’s some debate here, it’s a simple rule to follow – at least until I hear otherwise.
For example, the focus keyword for this post is “blogging for creative entrepreneurs”.
As you can see, it’s the first three words of the title.
Your First Paragraph
The next place you should put your keyword is in the first paragraph of your blog post.
This is a common rule of thumb and a simple thing to follow. It also makes sense, since the first paragraph introduces to core topic – which is, well, your target keyword.
Your Content Body
Finally, we have the rest of your actual blog. Should we be adding your keyword anywhere else?
Honestly, I’ve heard arguments for “yes, here and there” and support “it doesn’t matter”.
Personally, I don’t worry or thing about it. The thing is, since I’m writing about the keyword, it naturally pops up anyways (or close variations of it).
In the early days of blogging, people would use keyword stuffing techniques to trick the algorithms into ranking their articles.
But Google has gotten a lot smarter and actually penalizes for this practice.
So it’s best to just focus on writing great content, that relevant and true to your title.
How to Structure Your Blog + Site
Once you’ve SEO-ified your title and content body, then you can rest assured you’re already set up for success. But let’s take it up a notch or two.
Although some of the advice will come down to personal preference and stylistic choices, these tips definitely help to optimize your blog.
How to Structure Your Blog Posts
We don’t want to just write one big section for our blog post and be done with it. No, we need structure.
Actually, drafting the core structure for a blog post is my very first step – before I even start writing.
This way, I know exactly which topics I’ll be talking about and in what order. It’s incredibly helpful. But structuring our blogs with headlines tags has other purposes.
It creates better user experience through navigation, and helps Google better understand what you’re content is actually about.
Headline tags work in a hierarchical way, where the title is an H1 and each tag thereafter gets progressively smaller, all the way to H6.
It looks something like this:
H1 headline tag
H2 headline tag
H3 headline tag
H4 headline tag
H5 headline tag
H6 headline tag
I generally only use H1-H4 headline tags, where every “subsection” beyond H4 is just normal paragraph text (but bolded).
That’s just my style.
But the main takeaway here is to understand and use your main headline tags to structure and organize your blog posts.
How to Structure Your Website
OK, now let’s look beyond our blogs and how to structure our actual website.
It’s part of navigation and having good UX (user experience).
These are important for improving your site’s usability, visitor dwell time and the overall design of your blog.
There’s a lot of ways we can go about this, but let’s keep things simple. You can even copy my website’s design.
Many of these pages I put in my menu, while others are in the footer at the bottom:
- Blog page
- About page
- Contact page
- Affiliate disclosure page
- Terms and conditions page
Essential Blog Writing Tips
Your blog writing will naturally improve over time, as you write more – putting out better content every time.
Oof, when I look back at my first blog posts…I have to wonder if I actually did any editing…
But it’s all part of the process. And hey, maybe you can skip that awkward first phase.
Here are some key tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Part 4: Making Money + Inspiration
OK on to the good stuff.
This part is all about inspiration and application. I’ve got some plug-and-play templates for you and examples of great blogs.
But let’s start with how to actually monetize your blog.
7 Ways to Monetize Your Blog
Monetization of a blog is a big topic – and an exciting one.
There are tons of different ways to turn your blog into a moneymaking machine – but they all require a steady flow of traffic.
So if you’re not there yet, just keep plugging away with the SEO and content tips above.
But once you start getting consistent traffic, here are some great ways to monetize your blog.
1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to monetize your blog.
It involves recommending relevant products or services through your posts.
For example, if you click on my unique affiliate link for WordPress above, I get a small payout (at not cost to you).
2. Ad Placements
Ad placements are another way to increase your blog’s revenue.
It involves advertisements being placed and inserted throughout your blog post.
We see examples of this on most posts, but a great way to make it prettier is by using native ads, so they blend in better.
3. Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts are a great way to get paid – if you have the influence and enough traffic.
It requires a company be willing to pay you money to create content about or recommending their product or service.
For example, if you have a large following in the yoga space, a yoga brand may pay you to write about their product.
4. Create A Digital Product
Digital products are fantastic ways to passively create wealth and value for your audience and market.
Digital products are awesome because once you create them, you can sell them over and over with no extra work.
Some examples of common digital products are online courses, ebooks, website templates or image filters.
5. Sell Merchandise + Products
Merchandising and selling physical products is a cool way to monetize a blog.
This basically create an online store for your blog, as you start to integrate Ecommerce into your content marketing.
Some examples of passive physical products to sell on your blog are merchandising (t-shirts, cups, etc.) or dropshipping.
6. Sell Your Services
You’re creating a blog because you have knowledge or skills that others don’t.
You’re already creating value-adding content, so selling your services online just makes sense (although it’s less passive).
Some examples are consulting or selling your services by finding clients and making monthly contracts.
7. Create A Membership
One last monetization channel that gained some steam the past few years are membership channels.
This can be a great model and can work well – if you have the audience to support this.
For example, you may offer more exclusive or “secret” content to members who pay a monthly fee for access.
Click-Worthy Title Templates
I’ve gotten a lot more confident with creating compelling titles (and copywriting in general).
A good title should catch someone’s attention and stand out from the competition on the keyword you’re writing for.
So below are a few of my favorite templates. I’ve also linked out to a post that has a lot more for inspiration.
But do some research on what’s working for your competition and other blogs in your niche or for your keyword.
Examples of Awesome Blogs for Inspiration
We all need a little inspiration sometimes. And checking out other blogs (whether in your industry or not) is great for getting fresh design ideas.
Here is a curated list of blog I personally find appealing and have been inspired by.
I love Elementor’s blog design and overall aesthetic. It’s super clean, minimal and has excellent visual UX. I use their blog for inspiration quite often.
I really like how Constant Contact categorizes their blog by industry. They’ve nailed the idea of content silos and clusters.
I was originally inspired by Adam Enfroy for his ability to break into a competitive space using clever SEO and blogging strategies. He’s a great place for ranking inspiration.
I love this blog for one big reason: Pinterest. I haven’t touched on Pinterest too much in this post, but just know that it can be an awesome shortcut to getting a lot of traffic.
And Create And Go’s blog is a great place for inspiration.
This post has covered it all. From mindset and motivation to blogging best practices.
I wanted to create this post specifically for creative entrepreneurs who want to know the best and most efficient ways to start blogging.
There are a lot of different strategies, advice and resources out there. But the information in this post has highlighted all of the most important aspects – all in one place.
So thanks for stopping by today! But now the ball’s in your court – so how about getting started by finding a keyword and drafting your first blog outline!
Let me know in the comments, what questions do you still have about starting a blog?