How to Start a Blog: Simple Strategies for Building Successful Websites

Starting a blog is a great way to earn income for businesses and individuals both.

After reading this guide, you'll understand the following:

  1. How to register, brand, design, and manage your website.
  2. How to select a niche and analyze your competition.
  3. How to market your website effectively.
  4. How to monetize your blog or website.
  5. How to scale and grow your website.

Learning how to start a blog or website can be quite an endeavor. Keyword research, competitive analysis, website architecture, web hosting, and branding are all important considerations to make—and that’s before you even start writing! With all the available tools and services today, starting a website or blog is very easy and can be done by anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection. However, starting a successful website is another story. This guide will demystify the entire process and help you start a blog quickly and effectively.

Introduction

Blogs and website can be created for many different reasons and are found in many different forms. Some websites are similar, few are the same. Before you start registering domain names and pitching your family members on investing in your website you should make some careful considerations. The first is whether your website is intended to generate a profit, even abstractly-speaking. This resource is designed for those seeking to make money online in mind. If you’re not interested in monetizing your blog, don’t worry—you still need to know the basics. Here’s an outline of the first steps any website should consider:

Niche Selection

The word “niche” is used to describe a certain group or part of a larger whole. Baseball is a niche within the world of SportsPlastic Cups are a niche within Kitchenware which is a niche within Home Goods which is a niche within Consumer Goods. Niches are a good way to organize topics and keywords. Before you start laying down the foundation of your website or blog you should consider what niche you want to focus on. It’s advisable to select a topic you are familiar with to help save time in your initial market research. Niche is a casual synonym for Vertical and is often used when discussing online segmentation.

Learn More: What is A Niche? How to Specialize for Success

Keyword Research

Keywords are the phrases people type into search engines like Google. Keywords are categorized by marketers and online researchers in several ways. The most popular classification method for keywords is the monthly search volume. This measures how many people type a certain keyword into a search engine per month. The higher monthly search count a keyword has the more valuable it is typically regarded to be. Finding popular keywords within your niche can help plan more successful content. As a general rule, the more popular a keyword is the higher commercial value it has. Ranking well for valuable keywords isn’t always easy since many other websites have an incentive to rank for them as well. There are a lot of considerations to make with regards to keyword research but. As a general rule, you want to find keywords with the largest possible search volume, largest possible CPC value, and lowest competition.

Competitive Analysis

Everyone needs to know what their competitors are up to. In the physical world, a local Wal-Mart’s biggest competitor would be the closest Target or grocery store. However, their biggest online competitors may be Amazon, Wayfair, and Zulilly.  Things like backlinks, number of total search results, and search engine result features (local packs, reviews, etc.) all play a role in how competitive keywords will be. Tools like SemRush or Ahrefs can help streamline the process and make your analysis much more accurate. Generally speaking, a website’s competition is all the other websites that rank for similar keywords. Part of finding a niche and keywords is doing competitive analysis several times to affirm or disprove your idea. For example, you might find an interesting niche only to realize it’s oversaturated.

Market Research

Just “knowing what’s going on” within a market is important. There are things that every keyword research and competitive analysis tool online put together won’t tell you. Part of developing a successful website is first knowing the so-called landscape of that market on a personal level. For example, a fitness website would benefit from having an awareness of popular gym exercises, trending fitness celebrities, and an awareness of common supplements taken by bodybuilders. Keywords like “protein powder” or “pre-workout” supplements might popup in related keyword research but nicknames and abbreviations like “whey,” “stackers,” or “blasted” might easily be overlooked. Effective websites are effective communicators and knowing how to talk the talk is a large part of connecting with your audience.

Creating A Website

Once you have an idea of the niche you want to pursue and the existing competition you can begin creating your website. There are many different approaches to creating a website, but a few common tasks common to all websites. You need to register a domain, provide web hosting for your site, and create your websites’ actual HTML code. Fortunately, there are excellent products and services to assist with each step. You don’t have to know how to code to create a website!

Domain Registration

A website “domain” is the text that a user would type into their web browsers’ URL bar to visit your site. The domain of this site is moneymound.com. It’s strongly advisable to register a .com domain rather than another tld such as .money, .rocks or .me. People are still much more familiar with the .com format, though .net and .org are reasonable choices also. There’s a lot of considerations to make when choosing a domain name but it’s also important to know that you can change things down the road—it’s just a pain in the ass.

Learn More: How to Choose a Domain Name

Web Hosting

A web host is a company that stores your website on their computers to ensure it’s always available online. Web hosts are, in the most basic sense, just someone that rents you a computer. Depending on what type of technology your website includes you’ll want to select a web host that best fits your sites’ needs. For example, there are web hosting companies that cater specifically to WordPress websites. If you were running a Magento-based eCommerce site—you’d want a Magento host. If you’re a software developer creating a site from the ground up, dedicated servers are probably going to be the most attractive to you.

Learn More: Website Hosting Reviews

Content Management Systems (CMS)

Modern websites are dynamic and have evolved far beyond static HTML pages. Content Management Systems are software designed to help make advanced website functionality easier for website owners. WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and powers more than 25% of the entire Internet. Let that sink in for a second. WordPress is built with a computer language known as PHP and is designed to help you start a blog or website without having to worry about coding. That said, WordPress can also be customized as much as you’d like if that’s your thing. There’s a lot of different CMS options out there, and you’ll want to consider which option provides the best accommodation for the needs your anticipate your website having as it evolves.

Learn More: WordPress 101: The Benefits of a Powerful CMS

Encryption & User Security

Privacy and data security are among the highest priority subjects for webmasters and technology policymakers these days. You may have noticed that some websites you visit have a little green bar in the URL section of your browser and display as https:// rather than http://. This web browser feature indicates a website is using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology to ensure that the connection with their users is private and more secure. This encryption type and has become quite standard among modern websites. Many web hosts provide free SSL features, mostly through OpenSSL currently. Many hosting providers don’t offer this, and you’ll be required to install your SSL certificate if you want your website to use https encryption. As of 2018, Google has stated that https encryption is now, officially, an SEO ranking factor. That means that websites using an SSL certificate have a better chance of ranking for keywords than sites without.

Email Hosting

Email is an essential service for any website. Aside from being a useful marketing tool, having a domain-specific email address are required for things like SSL certificate purchase and website verification (sometimes.) Typical web hosting comes with something known as cPanel, and type of administrative panel to help do things like install WordPress, SSL certificates, and—among many other things—create and manage email accounts. Many of the higher-quality web hosts don’t provide this type of service, however. Managed WordPress solutions such as Flywheel or WPEngine require that users register for third-party email services like Google, Office 365, or Zoho. This is a slight pain in the ass, but the current state of affairs.

Website Design

There’s a strong argument that the most important step in starting a blog or website is to start creating content. This is right on a lot of levels, but one should never fail to consider user experience. The design of your website will set a tone for all your readers. If you are unfamiliar with website coding such as CSS or Javascript, you need not fear! Many CMS platforms such as WordPress accommodate the use of third-party ‘themes” which allow one to transform one’s website into visually-stunning designs without having to code. There is a lot to consider when selecting a website theme but the decision isn’t permanent.

Branding

How you brand your website is a very long and very detailed process to consider. Branding is, of course, a matter of aesthetics as far as logos, colors, and fonts are concerned. Branding is also a matter of marketing strategy in how it relates to how you create and display new content. For example, a website named MattressExperts.com would seem right at home talking about mattresses, but users might find it odd if that site started talking about bedframes. Having a name like BedroomExperts.com would make that more relevant. Branding can evolve as your site grows so don’t worry about getting things perfect immediately. I find that keeping things as ambiguous as possible when starting gives the greatest flexibility to evolve later.

Learn More: Brand vs. Niche: Building A Better Future for your Website

Creating Content

The backbone of any successful website or blog is the content available to users. For more advanced websites, content may take the form of applications, services, or even data analyzation. The content commonest to blogs and average websites are articles, images, videos, audio, or some mixture of these elements. CNN.com might have an interactive map displaying voting results from the most recent election, but most websites aren’t that advanced. This section outlines actions and considerations that are most effective for content such as articles and video.

Content Quality

Quality content is the attribute commonest to all quality websites. If your content sucks, people won’t even stick around long enough to tell you. There’s a lot of idealistic conversation among marketing and SEO professionals regarding the quality of content. One perspective is that websites should create the highest-quality content possible. Another perspective is that websites should only create content of higher quality than their largest competitor, even if it isn’t the highest quality they’re capable of producing.

The latter perspective is more cost effective in the short term but falls short as time moves forward. It’s kind of like putting the cheapest tires on your car—you might have some extra cash for a CD player that way, but you’ll be buying new tires again sooner. Producing quality content requires one to make many different considerations. Developing a workflow to produce consistent, high-quality, content for your site is a must.

Aesthetic Presentation

Never underestimate the impact of your website’s user experience. Your website will be less successful if your content is hard to read, hard to access, or hard to understand. No matter how well-worded and grammatically-correct your content is, people may leave your website quickly if the content is difficult to read. Popups, slow load speeds, tiny fonts, overlapping elements, and annoying banner ads are all annoyances that distract from your content.

Familiar Language

You don’t have to have an English degree to write effectively. Speaking to your audience as if you were having a conversation with them goes a long way. That’s assuming you’re saying something interesting of course. The key is to use language with which your audience is familiar. If you are writing a scientific paper to present to researchers on cellular biology, you will use a different set of vocabulary that you would if writing a short story to read to Kindergarteners. Both could be wildly-successful—but neither would resemble the other. Know how to speak to your audience.

Content Relevancy

It’s worth taking a moment to stress how important it is to stay on topic. If you’re starting a website or blog about automotive repair, articles about fishing, cooking, or painting aren’t likely to interest the majority of your target audience. This doesn’t include personal blogs, which typically include a bit of everything.  Search engines will come to create their impression of your website as it grows and you produce more and more content. If most of your articles are about similar subjects, such that changing oil and installing CD players might both be related to automotive interests, your site will be regarded as being more closely related to the automotive niche. This helps to increase Website Authority and will help your blog be more successful in the long term. Don’t keep writing on the same topic though. If there are five different ways to change oil include them all in a single article.

Organization & Structure

Making sure your content is mentally accessible is important. Quality content is defined, at least in part, by the ease one can access the information it contains. Imagine how inaccessible a dictionary would be if it were not in alphabetical order. It would be useless. Using headings, images, lists, and legible fonts all make content more accessible to readers. For videos, it can help to provide a quick description when beginning a new line of thought or before discussing a new topic. Give strong consideration to both how you structure individual pages and your entire website.

Learn More: How to Structure Websites For Success & Scalability

Evergreen Content

You may have heard the term “evergreen content” before. It’s a popular buzzword used by marketers and SEO professionals. Evergreen content is content that is popular all year round and won’t lose popularity over time. Examples of evergreen niches are health and wellness, fitness, and DIY home repair. Content in these niches might need to be updated as time moves on but they will continue to be relevant. Before you start your website, consider how evergreen the content will be within your niche. Certain topics that have only recently become popular, like cryptocurrency, for example, may likely lose their popularity in the future. Seasonal keywords and niches may also provide mixed results. A website about surfboards wouldn’t attract much attention in during colder parts of the year.

Content Format

The format of your content should complement the topics your website discusses. Sometimes an image truly is worth a thousand words, but other times 10,000 words are exactly what an audience would prefer. This is a case-by-case consideration that only you can decide. Many websites, especially those with international distribution, contain many different formats of content to help reach broader audiences. One great tip is to write one article for many audiences—include a quick summary at the top for people looking for a quick answer, include well-written and in-depth sections for those that like a deep dive, and include infographics, images, and video for those that prefer visual presentation. Developing a workflow to accommodate this type of presentation can greatly improve your efficiency when creating content for your website. Content templates save so much time.

You’ll quickly find that your website, once it’s gained some initial traction, will quickly start to amass a lot of user data. This may consist of registered users’ personal information, site user IP addresses, and interaction data that offers insight on how users access your website. There are some strict legal guidelines on how to collect and use data, as well as how to inform your readers about it. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed by the European Union in 2016, enacted in 2018, is an excellent example of such legal guidelines. Knowing the basics of what types of data your website may, or may not collect, can help make sense out of these confusing regulatory publications.

Google Analytics

The most popular form of website analytics is a free service provided by Google known as Google Analytics. This service provides webmasters with detailed data describing how users interact with their websites. While some information is restricted, such as user IP address, there are endless amounts of insights one can gain with this product. To get started, insert a small snippet of code into all the pages on your website and data will start getting collected. For websites built on frameworks such as WordPress, there are third-party tools like WordPress Plugins that can help inject this code.

Google Tag Manager

Google’s Tag Manager platform helps to manage many different types of technology that all use a similar distribution system on your website. The Tag Manager can help serve Google Analytics’ code as well as many other types of tracking codes such as the Facebook Pixel. Google Tag Manager also makes tracking custom events such as button clicks, email registrations, and custom user actions much simpler.

Facebook Pixels

There are many different types of tracking technologies available from third-party networks that offer an advertising product. Facebook, being as large and popular as it is, deserves some special mention. Inserting a Facebook Pixel on your website can help gather valuable information for use inside of Facebook advertising campaigns. This code, along with many others, can be served through the Google Tag Manager service.

Email Addresses

Email addresses are your direct line to your readers. If your website were to disappear from the SERPs completely or all your CPC campaigns were to get disapproved overnight—email would be your best hope to regain your footing. There are many email marketing platforms that provide services that range from delivery and design. As your website grows you’ll find having a third-party service to handle all necessary emails is necessary to avoid overusing website resources. After all, if your site’s server is busy sending 10,000 emails it’s likely to have some issues in serving your content!

Website Marketing

Anytime someone has something they want other people to pay attention to; marketing is involved. People on blind dates may market themselves by the clothes they wear, religious missionaries (at least the door-to-door type) market themselves with a message, and businesses typically market themselves with advertising. There are many ways to conceptualize and approach marketing your website and should all be given some consideration.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is an expansive topic covering many on-site and many off-site considerations. Having keywords in headings, titles in HTML elements, and writing meta descriptions are important onsite considerations while off-site SEO usually consists of building backlinks to your website. SEO is an easy topic to overthink. Fortunately, focusing on some key aspects can help the majority of websites be successful.

SEO Content

Modern search engines have become very intelligent in how they interpret a website’s content. In the good ol days, one could rank well in the search engine results pages (SERP) just by repeatedly including a certain keyword within a pages’ copy. Today, however, search engines understand the contextual relationship of written language much better. Companies like Google know that searches for keywords such as “how to start a blog,” “starting a blog,” “how to start blogging,” and “blogging tutorial” are all closely related searches. What this means is that rather than focusing on single keywords and un-natural language, one can focus on writing quality and inspired content.

Learn More: SEO 101: Quality Content & Quality Backlinks

Backlinks

If SEO were a coin and quality content was on one side—backlinks would be on the other. Backlinks are like digital opinions that let search engines and other websites recognize that your website is worth consideration for certain keyword terms. There are many different types of backlinks and many different qualities of backlinks. Some backlinks might drive valuable traffic to your site directly while others might drive it indirectly by improving your sites’ keyword rankings in the SERPs. Some backlinks are created through a practice that is known as Blackhat SEO. This involves creating backlinks in such a way that violates the Google Webmaster Guidelines and can get your site penalized. In the real world, getting a website penalty would be like getting a speeding ticket for driving too fast. You’d pay a fine, maybe get some points on your license, and move on. In the SEO world–you could tank your entire website!

Learn More: Linkbuilding 101: Different Types of Backlinks

Keyword Position Tracking

Tracking keyword positions isn’t strictly an SEO consideration but is important to keep track of your SEO efforts. SEO is a term used to describe actions taken to help your website appear higher for certain keyword searches in the SERP. This is commonly referred to as Ranking—as in, “your website is ranking better for keywords after building backlinks.” Software called keyword trackers help keep track of where your website ranks for certain keywords. This helps keeps track of how effective your SEO efforts have been and is a powerful predictor of how popular your website has become.

Social Media Marketing

Social media isn’t a burden that every website should bear. Constantly sending updates to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ (just kidding) isn’t always cost-effective. It’s a good idea for any new website to play around with different social media websites to see how much traction they can build. Some topics that are very popular for search engine queries lack the pizzazz needed to attract clicks on Facebook. For example, someone searching Google for the “best tennis shoes” would likely click an article titled Top 10 Tennis Shoes Compared whereas that post might go unnoticed on Facebook. For those exploring social media as a potential marketing channel, there are several key considerations to make.

Content Format

If you’re posting to Reddit, don’t just drop a link— including the text. If you’re posting videos to Facebook, realize that captioning your videos will give you a much higher play count. Each platform has its native content format and unique user interactions. Simply posting the same link across five different social media channels and expecting results is naive. Social media sites are just like regular websites in the sense that an audience needs to be given value in a readily accessible way or else they’ll quit coming around altogether. Marketers ruin everything.

Posting Frequency

Social media thrives on consistency. Research has shown, time and time again, that the most successful Social Media accounts are those that, among several other things, post on a regular basis. This can scale depending on your resources. The posting frequency you establish is what your audience will come to expect. If you are the only one managing your Social Media Marketing, don’t establish an un-sustainable posting frequency early on. On the other hand, posting content to Social Media profiles can be much more casual than to the associated website and can even include links and comments about other websites.

The world of paid advertising is immense. There are many different options to get your website in front of high converting traffic—assuming you’re willing to shell out the money! Paid advertising is typically sold either regarding clicks or impressions. Cost-Per-Click (CPC), Price-Per-Click (PPC), and Cost-Per-Impression (CPM) are common names used for these types of advertising. Most any advertising platform will offer options for both. There are a lot of different options out there and lots of approaches to consider with paid advertising.

WARNING: When you create a website or blog, you will be bombarded by offers from advertising networks such as Google AdWords (now called Google Ads), Bing, and even Facebook. I urge everyone to get a basic understanding before running paid advertising campaigns. These networks make it really easy to spend money and there is no guarantee of positive results.

Search Ads

These are CPC ads displayed when users are searching for specific keywords in search engines such as Google or Bing. Advertisers make using these ads simple enough for a monkey to do it but not without paying extra. Using the default settings (comparable to AdWords Express) is a quick way to spend too much money. The benefit of these ads is their granularity and the ability to target specific keyword phrases. For example, if you’re selling men’s dress socks, and are willing to pay enough money, you can have your website link displayed at the top of the SERP for keyword phrases such as “best men’s dress socks,” “men’s dress socks,” or even “buy men’s dress socks online.”

Content Discovery Networks

Content discovery networks display links to your website on other websites, typically mimetic of those sites’ native format. For example, you’ll note that on major news websites you’ll often see “Recommended Articles” below other articles. These are, in many cases, actually links to articles on other websites. This ads can be quite powerful when done correctly but aren’t always a viable option for every website.

This is about as traditional of an advertising strategy as one can have. Banner ads are available from many large advertising platforms, including Google Adwords. These types of ads are the ones you see displayed at the tops of articles, on sidebars, and inserted between paragraphs. In most cases, these types of ads offer very low conversion rates. Many advertisers argue that Banner Blindness (the tendency of people to ignore banner ads completely) makes these ads much less effective than other forms. For larger websites and advertisers with larger budgets, there are higher-quality networks available that offer higher quality placements, which helps out some.

Video Advertising

Video advertising is, in most cases, something better served for larger websites with larger marketing budgets. Quality video ads aren’t cheap to produce. If you’ve got a shoestring budget, you’d likely be better served by spending all your ads bucks towards getting your ads placed—rather than creating them. With that said; short promotional videos can drive serious traffic when leveraged properly. Video ads are well suited for social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, and even Twitter. A good rule of thumb when considering where to use video ads is to consider the native format of that platform. If people are watching videos there, it’s probably an effective channel for video advertising. If people are reading articles of listening to music—maybe not so much. For example, Pandora offers video advertising, but most people are listening to Pandora—not watching it.

Influencer Advertising

Influencer advertising is as old as advertising itself but has recently seen an influx of new interest. When you see Tiger Woods on TV wearing a Nike brand hat—that’s influencer advertising. When starting a blog or website, you’re probably not going to have a budget for Tiger Woods or other celebrities to showcase your products. This is where the new market of micro-influencers comes in. Social media has given a voice to millions of people across the world and among them are those with a considerable number of fans, followers, or whatever their respective platform calls them. Reaching out to Fan pages with fifteen thousand followers to negotiate sponsorship of posts can be an effective marketing strategy for your website. This type of marketing is much more Buyer Beware than other types. Before investing too much on influencer marketing make sure you know who you’re sponsoring.

Website Monetization

Having an effective monetization strategy when you start a website or blog is important. Having some idea of where your site’s revenue will come from can help better plan what types of content, distribution, and marketing your site needs. There are many different ways to monetize your website depending on how much time you want to spend managing things, what type of content you are producing, and what type of audience you’re attracting. Familiarizing yourself with several different types of advertising can help better chart your website’s future.

Affiliate Advertising

Affiliate advertising is a very effective means of website monetization. This form of advertising requires websites to place links to products within their content. When a reader clicks one of these links, then goes on to buy that product, the website (your website) earns a small commission. It’s like being a digital salesman in a way. To earn money from these types of links, you must register an account with an affiliate network such as Amazon Associates and create specially-formatted links. These types of links work great in an editorial or product review context. Many product comparison websites make most of their money through affiliate offers. Some strict FTC guidelines cover how you must let your readers know about these offers but, generally speaking, they don’t hurt your bottom line.

Content Discovery Networks

Content Discovery Networks (not called CDNs) typically displayed alongside articles on sidebars or below the main content of a page to attract a users’ attention. These can be an effective way to monetize your website but can also bring on some less-credible content to your website. Have you ever seen an article image below an article on your favorite news website that has some weird image and a very clickbaity title? That’s probably part of a content discovery network.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is the publisher side of the CPC, CPM, and Banner Advertising world. If you choose to monetize your website through a program such as Adsense (owned by Google, publisher side of Adwords) you can get paid by many different advertisers by placing a simple snippet of code on your website. In essence, you place a blank billboard on your website, and people pay you to use it. Monetizing your website like this can save a lot of time but isn’t always the most profitable. There are a lot of considerations to make about this type of advertising.

Once your website catches some traction, you will begin receiving many emails from other webmasters asking for access (usually backlinks.) You’ll recognize email pitch templates like the back of your hand. Seriously, it gets old fast. While these can get annoying, they can also be a valuable source of income and networking. Sponsored articles and Guest Posts are both powerful SEO tools and can fetch a pretty price depending on your website’s authority within your niche. Having someone approach you for such consideration is a great opening to negotiate the same type of opportunity for your website.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is, arguably, one of the most effective means of marketing. However, a lot of things have to be done right for it to be effective. A list of random emails won’t do a lot of good and spamming your subscribers to death with product offers will have them dropping like flies. Email content is like website content—if you don’t provide value, you won’t likely succeed. Creating and optimizing a lead-capturing (email subscription) system on your website is essential. There’s a lot of ways to approach this and many considerations to make. One other effective email strategy is creating an Autoresponder Sequence. This is a series of emails that get sent automatically to any new subscriber. For eCommerce websites, you want to consider the quality and value of all your transactional emails as well.

Miscellaneous

There are many other types of website monetization strategies out there. One of the most novel ideas I’ve seen lately is a website script that loads and uses the readers’ browser to mine cryptocurrency while they’re using your site. Very cool but still very untested. Product giveaways, quizzes, and unique website applications are all possible means of monetization. It’s wise to keep an eye on your options—but don’t overcommit to things that are untested. New technology and monetization methods risk having a negative impact on your website’s user experience.

Growing Your Website

Many websites start out strong but plateau afterward. Think of it like celebrities that had a great hit show back in the day but never did much afterward vs. those that had one initial hit and rode it all the way to the top. It’s the difference between David Spade and Kim Kardashian. Once you’ve established your website in an initial keyword niche you may find that there is no more room to grow in that space. This happens, don’t stress out about it.

The difference between successful websites and once successful websites hinges on the ability to find a new opportunity. Many of the initial considerations you made for your website will come into play here. If you skipped over some of the essentials you may find yourself faced with some difficult decisions, like re-branding, moving to another domain, or having to recover from a Google penalty.  Some of these are repeats of before-mentioned topics but discussed now in the context of website longevity.

Branding Ambiguity

The more ambiguous your website or brand’s name is the better suited you will be for expanding into new keyword topics. There is a point in branding where, no matter how ambiguous the name, consumers begin to associate companies and websites with certain types of products. Take Coke, for example; try to imagine anything other than a soda when hearing that name. Many successful companies start out selling one thing only to later find success selling another. Having an ambiguous name can help save having to rebrand every time one pivots or expands into another vertical. Some popular examples; 3M started out selling minerals, Avon started as a door-to-door book sales company, Flickr started out as a chat room, Nintendo was a playing card company, and Amazon used to only sell books!

Learn More: Brand vs. Niche: Building a Better Future for your Website 

Website Structure

Giving careful consideration to your website’s underlying categorical structure will help make or break you moving forward. Good SEO, in many regards, is synonymous with good organization. Having a clear and concise approach for organizing your content for users will only play to your advantage. Using links to connect related articles on your website will help empower your SEO strategy and help your users discover more of your content. Having a node-based approach (tree-based for you programmers out there) to organizing your content is incredibly powerful and lends to easy expansion into new keywords and topics.

Learn More: How to Structure Websites for Success & Easy Scalability

Scalable Webhosting

Successful websites attract a lot of users. That shared web hosting plan you signed up for with Godaddy (please don’t use Godaddy) won’t have the horsepower you need to serve content to 25,000 users a month. Depending on what type of web hosting you have, and from whom you have it—scaling up your site resources can be a nightmare. Starting out with a quality web host can help your site grow easily and without having to do annoying site migrations. For example, to serve more monthly visitors with Flywheel WordPress hosting all one needs to do is submit a support ticket with your request! Flywheel is considered a Managed WordPress web host, which just means they handle all the annoying stuff for you.

Learn More: Benefits of Managed Webhosting

Copyrights & Trademarks

Successful websites generate lots of money and where lots of money is made lots of scammers congregate. Having a trademark for your website allows you a greater legal authority to fight against scammers. Consult with a trademark lawyer if a significant portion of your income comes from your website (or if you plan for that to be the case.) They will help guide you through the process and explain the protections offered. Searching existing trademarks is also an integral part of the branding process. After all, you don’t want someone to sue you for trademark infringement after having invested the time and money into creating a successful website. You can search the United States Patent Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to see if your website name is already a registered trademark.

Copyrighting your material is a different type of consideration than trademarking your brand name. It’s never a bad idea to consult with a trademark lawyer but, in many cases, not strictly necessary. Ensuring you post an adequate copyright notice on your site can help act against those that would copy your content. It’s a tough fight, but if someone starts making a lot of money with your content you’ll want to pursue legal action. Many websites choose to provide “open” licenses for their content to allow the free sharing by others. The Creative Commons Corporation, a charitable organization, helps develop these types of licenses for webmasters to more easily inform users how they can, or cannot, reuse content.

Inspiration

Starting a blog or website about a topic you are passionate about is the best way to ensure an endless supply of inspiration. Even working inside a niche one is passionate about there are times when the creative juices simply stop flowing. Following other websites similar to yours, paying attention to current news related to your niche, and communicating with your audience all help discover new and interesting topics to produce content for. Don’t hesitate to step back from the computer and engage in your niche in other ways. Sometimes one can spend so much time writing on a subject that one forgets what doing the subject feels like.

Final Thoughts & Considerations

This guide is meant to serve as a jumping-off point for those seeking to create a successful website or blog. For a deeper discussion on any of the topics in this guide simply follow the links found in each section. As with all things web-related, this guide is an evolving resource. Content is updated to reflect current best practices as well as products and services that are no longer available. If you find something you believe to be inaccurate, out-of-date or just flat-out wrong—please reach out and let us know!

Starting a website and blog is a very rewarding experience. Successful websites have the power to offer financial independence and a deep sense of purpose for their owners and staff. Your website will, undoubtedly, require you to make many decisions and solve many problems unique to it alone. The advice in this guide is meant to provide with the basic tools and concepts needed to launch a successful website but don’t provide every piece of the puzzle. Reach out to your audience, continue you educate yourself, and practice what you preach. These habits will help you find continued success for your website.