How to Build and Monetize a Blog as Your Platform

When you have chosen a niche and have a domain name, you want to move to the next step and start creating your site. Many newbies want to know whether they need a site or a blog.

Static sites are great for narrow topics like a little mini-site where you’re reviewing one particular coffeemaker and you want a page on brewing tips, a page on the specs of the machine, a page on comparisons with another coffeemaker, etc.

They’re also great for service providers like freelancer ghostwriters who want a page of samples, a page of testimonials, a page of rates, etc. But for most marketers, who are leading a niche, you want a blog.

Blogs provide freshness that Google (and humans) crave. As long as you stay committed to the topic and post on it continually, it will be an evolving online entity that grows in authority over time.  Don’t worry about the thought of continual content – we’ll address that later.

For now, let’s just talk about the important elements you need to remember when you have a blog platform and want to profit from it.  Before you get started, set your domain up with hosting and then log into your hosting account’s cpanel.

Click on QuickInstall and then WordPress and follow the prompts to install your blog. Ideally, your blog will be located at yourdomain.com – but some of you may have future plans to put a squeeze page on yourdomain.com, so you might want your blog installed at yourdomain.com/blog – either will work.

Once you have it installed, log into your WordPress dashboard. It will always be located at yourdomain.com/wp-admin. It’s time to set it up for maximum authority and monetization!

Install the Right Theme

If you’re a newbie and want a more personalized theme you may want to start out with a premium paid theme, personally I did this as I didn’t want the hassle of having to change themes once I had my websites set up. A n internet marketer’s theme is versatile and especially developed with internet marketers in mind. The Pro Styler theme is an excellent choice , just be sure you buy a theme that has unlimited domains. Some themes charge per use, you don’t want this! You may decide to create new websites and you want the flexibility of using your theme on multiple sites. Just because you use the same theme doesn’t mean all your sites will look alike! You can create many looks and feels using paid themes unlike the free ones.

But buying a theme is not necessary, there are many free themes that are built into WordPress are great when starting out and you can always upgrade your theme and keep everything intact at any time in the future. It just requires styling and customizing.

What you want to watch out for is downloading free themes off the Internet randomly. These often have things you don’t want in there, like hard to find links to seedy websites. Just keep in mind that nothing’s totally free – they have a reason they put that out for the masses to use.

A better way to do it is to choose a free theme from those already installed. So in your dashboard click on Appearances and then Themes. You’ll see a variety of themes if you click on Add New.

You can sort by Featured, newest, Recently Updated – or check off theme specifics you want, like colors, columns, layout, features and subject. But there are some things you want to make sure you get.

Unless your blog is a photography-based blog, you want one where text is showcased more than images on the home page. It’s good to have some images, but not just images.

You also want a theme where the header doesn’t take up the entire “above the fold” area. The above the fold area is everything you see before have you to start scrolling down the page.

You want your above the fold area to show your header, navigation bar and the first snippet of the latest blog post as well as the sidebar that has your opt in form and freebie item in sight.

So you might notice the Twenty-Eleven theme has a huge header – takes up almost he whole screen. But the Twenty-Ten is much smaller. You can also upload your own theme if you want to. The newer versions twenty-thirteen and twenty-fourteen are much better choice in my opinion however we all have our own tastes so choose one that feels right for you.

There are some newbies who plan to launch an affiliate site for Amazon so they consider going with a specific review theme. That’s okay – as long as it’s not some automated system that simply pulls content in to your site.

In order to truly succeed, you want unique content with a personal style, not scraper sites that simply grab text from elsewhere. People don’t trust that. You might get the traffic, but when a consumer is looking for a review, they can tell the difference between a personalized post and scraped content.

Make Sure Your Settings Are Optimized

Most default settings are perfect, but there are a few things you want to do to ensure that your site performs at its best. Go through the sidebar on your blog dashboard and check each area to make sure everything is filled out.

Under Settings and General, add the name of your site and a tagline. Set your timezone and make sure the other elements are how you prefer the.

Under Settings and Writing, scroll down to where it says Update Services and add a list of ping sites that you want notified whenever your site has fresh content. You can find recommended sites online, so just cut and paste that list in there.

Under Settings and Reading, make sure your blog is set to show the Latest content, not a static page. Remember, when people land, they may not be bloggers themselves, so they might quickly glance to see if you have fresh content and, not realizing that it’s a set static page, assume you haven’t blogged in a long time and leave.

Make the settings show a few posts, such as 5 and the syndication feed much more, like 55. In the feed, choose to show the full text. Double check to make sure the Search Engine Visibility is UNchecked. You don’t want to block search engines from visiting your site.

Under Settings and Discussion, check to allow people to comment on new articles, make them fill out their name and email, enable threaded comments, and choose to manually approve and get notifications whenever anyone posts a comment.

Under default Avatar, choose Gravatar. This is where most people have their avatar registered. Go to Gravatar.com and use the same email address as you use for the site. Upload a headshot so that your blog readers can build that trusted bond with you and put a face to the name.

Under Settings and Permalinks, it should be defaulted correctly, but you want to make sure it uses this format:

http://www.yourdomain.com/sample-post

You don’t want to use the official default where it uses ?p=123 instead of the sample-post style because you want the URL of your blog posts to include the keywords in your title. Just glancing at, you can see which is helpful to both humans and search engines:

http://www.yourdomain.com/how-to-stop-panic-attacks

versus…

http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=568

The first one is clear. The second could be any topic under the sun.

Profitable and Helpful Plugins

Newbies can get carried away with plugins, if they’re not careful. The more plugins you use, the slower your site functions. But there are some things that help your visitors have a good experience while on your domain.

You want to use Akismet to help stop spam. No blogger wants to be dealing with the amount of spam that comes in automatically to their site. This filters out most of it.

Install Contact Form 7. This will be used for your Contact page and it’s a free plugin. Instead of just putting your email address live on your Contact page (which helps spammers scrape and use your email address), use this form. They will need to fill in their name, email address and leave a message for you. This gets sent directly to your inbox.

Greg’s Threaded Comment Numbering is a good plugin that’s free to use. It helps your visitors communicate with one another on your blog and helps you build a community. If Mary wants to respond to Jack, she can – and then Jack can respond to her comment. It helps people see the flow of conversation better.

WP Socializer is a good plugin that’s free for social sharing buttons, but you can pick any you prefer. Basically, you want to make sure it has all of the hot social sites, including:

* Facebook
* Google Plus
* Twitter
* Pinterest

You can have others, but those are the big ones. For increased sharing, traffic and profits, make sure you place the buttons above and below the content, and possibly hovering as they scroll on the side.  When people can share content, it helps you make more sales.

There’s a good plugin that you can use to help you build a list and promote products. It’s called Covert Messenger. You can get the lite or Pro version, and this is a discreet, non-intrusive popup that gently appears in the lower right side of your screen.

It doesn’t block the reader from seeing the content they’re looking at, so they never get frustrated and have to exit out of it. But it does catch their attention from the corner of their eye.

Here, you can promote products you created, products you’re an affiliate for, tout your opt in freebie, etc. The Pro version has more options, but if you’re new, you might want to start with the lite one and upgrade later.

You’re going to get bombarded by plugin offers over the years. There are plugins that do just about everything under the sun. Resist the urge to automate everything on your site.

Some automation is good, but overdoing it erases you (the human element) from the site, and you won’t be able to build that bond with your readers. Look for the best plugins to help with whatever task drags you down most.

For example, if you’re running an Amazon review blog, there will be plugins to help you quickly and easily create links to products. The faster you can do this, the more time you’ll have to write more reviews and increase your commissions.

What to Put in Your Widgets

Widgets are what goes into your sidebar – and this is a prime monetization spot for most marketers in any niche.

You can have the small search widget at the top, but directly under that, make sure you have a Text widget with the code for your opt in form. There are also plugins you can get to do the same job, depending on what email autoresponder you’re using.

As a newbie, you might have no money for start-up costs. If so, go with a tool like MailChimp. It’s free, but limited. If you have $1 for a first month trial, and $19 a month after that, then go with Aweber.

When you’re in your autoresponder tool, it will ask you if you want to grab the code and you will grab the HTML code and paste it into the Text widget before saving it.

You always want to be building your list form your blog. Marketers don’t say “the money’s in the list” for no reason. They know that it takes multiple encounters with a person to get them to trust your recommendations, and having a list is the only way to ensure they interact with you again.

You can use Text widgets for any kind of HTML code you want to place there, so if you’re an affiliate, you can put vertical banners to promote products, or you can install AdSense code if you want to go that route.

Some bloggers, as they gain footing in a niche, will sell ad space in their sidebar to other marketers. You can do this, too, but just starting out, it’s not a viable income stream.

Include links to your social networking business pages in a Text widget, including:

* Twitter
* Facebook
* Pinterest
* Google Plus
* YouTube
* LinkedIn

The other widgets are all under your control – categories, recent posts, recent comments, etc. Just be mindful of the user’s experience. You want them to see comments because it’s a way of showcasing the fact that you have a thriving blog. You won’t at first – and that’s okay. No need to go pay for phony blog comments.

Create Your Pages

In your dashboard sidebar, go to Pages and if it’s not already taken down, delete the sample page. Now it’s time to add the pages that will help you create a formidable presence online.

Start with your About page. The About page is intended to help your readers get to know who you are, what the site is all about, and how you intend to help them. It’s best to include a picture or video along with the text so that they can get to know you.

Watch how you word things. You don’t want to be an Eeyore about things. If you’re launching a “make money online” blog but you yourself haven’t succeeded, then word it like this:

“I learned a long time ago that it’s beneficial to send the elevator back down to help the person on a lower level than you. So as I discover great, new information on how to make money online, I’ll be teaching it to you, to help you climb the ladder of success.”

That sounds much better than something like this:

“I am a struggling, out of work man who is about to get kicked out his apartment if I don’t learn this Internet Marketing stuff fast, so this is my journey to see if I can succeed. I’ve been trying for 2 years and haven’t yet made a dime.”

No one will want to learn from that person. There’s no need to lie, either. The first example is a simple, motivating and inspiring account of how you like to help people. And even newbies usually know more than some other newbie, so approach it as a community where everyone helps one another learn best practices.

Create a Disclaimer page for your blog. This is where you should comply with any laws and terms of service, disclosing that you might make money as an affiliate, for example.

Another good page to have is a Contact page, which we discussed earlier. You want some way of people contacting you easily. On your contact page, you also might want to include links to your social

Depending on where you are in your journey, you may want to have a Products or Services page – if you yourself have created products or offer services of your own.

Just make sure it’s relevant to the blog’s topic. For example, don’t have a blog about cooking and put an offer to read Tarot cards for your cooking blog readers. The topics don’t match.

If you’re not yet a product creator or service provider, then create a Resources page. Here, you can list certain products you want to recommend, or you can link to search results pages in sites like Amazon.

If you do have your own products, then you’ll want to have an Affiliates page where you provide information on how people can become an affiliate to promote your products.

Get Ready to Start Posting

Some newbies mistakenly start creating content and putting it all on pages. This messes up your navigation. You want just about everything to be a blog post, not page.

Click on Posts and you’ll see some subtopics you can navigate to. Start by going to Categories and edit the Uncategorized option to something else.

Have you mapped out your site yet? You need an idea of how to have a well-organized site, so just as you did with your niche research, go through the process and group concepts together.

For example, let’s say you were in the “exercise over 40” niche. You might brainstorm the following:

* Safety
* Low Impact
* Weight training
* Kettlebells
* Zumba…etc.

You could safely nestle Kettlebells under weight training instead of having dozens of categories all over the place. You might put Zumba under a category called Recreational Fitness.

Create a set of Categories and make sure you format them the same. For example, capitalize the first letter of each word like this:

Weight Training

When you create categories, you can have “parent” and “child” categories, which simply means you can create it so that it looks like this:

Weight Training (parent category)
Kettlebells (child category)
Dumbbells (child category)

Under the Posts section, you can add tags – but it’s easier to just add them each time you create a blog post where it asks for tags.

Monetization on Your Blog

As a niche blogger, you want to always be thinking about your reader, but not to the point where you neglect your own financial success. That should be a strong part of your formula.

So after you map out the categories for your blog, you can rotate the topics when you create new content. Each time you pick a topic, think of two things:

1. What good, valuable tips can I share?

2. How can I monetize this post?

So let’s use weight training as our example again. Suppose you wanted to create a blog post called 7 Tips for Weight Training at Home. You would create 7 tips and for one or more of those, include a casual mention and link to a particular product.

For example, you might have a tip about choosing an area with plenty of space, and you could talk about why that’s important, and then say something such as, “If you live in a small area, then I recommend choosing space-saving equipment, like resistance bands that use your body weight.”

Then link to the one you recommend and talk a bit about it before going on to your next tip. The last thing you want to do is write one big ad. The reader should walk away feeling fulfilled if they don’t happen to buy anything that day.

You’ll be building trust with your readers that way.

What other monetization can you place on your blog? Banner ads – but don’t create a hostile environment on your blog where banner ads and buttons are flashing all over the place, blinding your readers.

Depending on your theme, you might be able to place a horizontal banner ad right below your header. You can promote products as an affiliate or promote your own products. These are usually called Leaderboard size.

The sidebar provides ample opportunity for vertical banners and smaller buttons. Try to select choices where they match the color of your site, or complete it in coloring – as long as it doesn’t clash.

You can also put banner ads and buttons inside your actual blog posts. So let’s say you were reviewing an info product from JVZoo or ClickBank. You could look for affiliate tools from the product creator and embed them into your posts so that they align with your text to the right or left, or break up lengthy blog posts right in the middle, too.

Make sure you monetize with text hyperlinks whenever you blog. These convert well. You don’t want every other word to be a hyperlink, but sprinkle them throughout wherever relevant.

Some blog themes don’t make your links stand out very well when you make them, so always go to the extra step of bolding the word or phrase and underlining it. Depending on the colors of your blog, you might also want to make them blue, like a traditional hyperlink.

Some of your monetization will occur from repeat contact with your readers. If your reader doesn’t notice your sidebar opt in form, they might sign up if you include the form at the bottom of your post.

There are plugins that can do this – or, you can simply paste the HTML code into the text – not visual – portion of your blog post. That way, not only are they expose to your offer during that first blog read, but you can promote to them repeatedly (as you serve their needs) over time and enjoy repeat commissions and sales.