How to Start a Blog from Scratch in 2020 (and Beyond)

Every day, around the world, people ponder how to start a blog for various reasons:

  1. They’re intensely passionate about a particular subject and want to share that feeling with the world.
  2. They have a distinct viewpoint to share and want to build a community around shared beliefs.
  3. They want to generate some income and make money blogging. Heck, maybe even enough to someday replace the day job and grab some more freedom. A good goal to have, right?

How to Start a Blog in 2020, and Beyond

Choosing the blog niche you want to pursue isn’t an easy process. 

Determining long-term goals, and how those align with your knowledge base, helps identify exciting topics on which to focus.

Will the topic hold your own, and your audience’s attention, for the long-haul? There are few more critical questions to consider.

You’ll pour over your blog topics list for hours – if not days – and that’s fine. Don’t stress; it’s natural. It’s a vital decision that will make your blog a powerhouse. Tough decisions require careful consideration, and there’s some discomfort involved.

That’s life.

No matter what, the topic you choose should be one you can write about with confidence and authority.

The #1 Thing to Know About Choosing Blog Topics

Authority in your blog’s subject is just part of the equation. We’re going to assume you’re here to learn about how to make money blogging.

First, let’s take a quick look at the foundation of conventional blogging wisdom:

The constant, painstaking slog for organic traffic and making offerings to the Google gods can be brutal. 

There’s no promise of instant riches in changing this mindset to something new.

Conventional blogging wisdom discounts the inherent value of your time.

The world’s saturated with passion project bloggers, y’all, and trust us, the passion wanes when you’re focused on one topic for an extended period.

Another dark “secret” is that passion projects are not profitable.

Identifying the right audience with a budget to spend, and scaling your blog like a business is profitable.

It’s time to make blogging your friend, not an adversary.

Agree? 

Let’s dig in.

How to Discover Profitable Blog Topics

When considering how to start a blog with the right business mindset, you must think about:

1. The audience’s expendable income and reader personas.

  • Does the audience for which I’m writing have an expendable income?
  • Would business owners in the niche be able to pay for 1:1 consulting services or other products I offer?
  • Am I a part of the target audience for which I’m writing?
  • Who are the people that make up this audience? 
  • Why do I want them as consistent readers and evangelists of my blog and professional network?
  • Do I have in-depth, profound knowledge about my primary topic?
  • Can I utilize the professional network I’ve created to promote my blog and help rapidly escalate its growth?

2. Demand for information related to the blog topic.

  • Are people searching for my primary keywords on Google?
  • How heavy is my competition?
  • Is the barrier to entry low enough I can make some quick headway?
  • Conversely, would I be banging my head against the wall?

Using keyword tools, you can evaluate blog topics to determine competitiveness, based on some standard benchmarks.

We’ll take a closer look at that process a bit later.

First, let’s look at how the best blogs establish reader personas and evaluate the competition.

How the Best Blogs Establish Reader Personas and Evaluate Competition

Establishing reader personas helps you determine how to start a blog. This process is vital, given you’re only going to be writing on a handful of blog topics. 

You’ll outsource the majority of your content to freelance writers as one of your content strategy’s core practices.

Establishing Reader Personas When You Create a Blog

To uncover reader personas, you first need to consider: 

Am I part of the audience for whom I’m writing. If the answer to the question is no, take a step back and reconsider your blog topics. 

If the answer is yes, great. Full speed ahead!

Next, it’s time to sketch out who a perfect reader of your blog would be. 

There are a few things to consider, including demographics, psychographics, and audience behavior, as you start to build a blog.

Demographics, Psychographics and Audience Behavior

Let’s tackle these together, one by one:

1.  Demographics – Demographics are statistical data describing characteristics of a population, such as:

  •  Age
  • Gender
  • Income Level
  •  Ethnicity
  • Religion
  •  Number of Children
  • Martial Status

2. Psychographics – Psychographics is the study of consumer lifestyles to create a detailed customer profile.

  • To understand your psychographics, you’ll need to understand what people want to know about your blog topic and how knowledgeable they are about your niche.
  • You also need to know what stake they have in visiting your blog.
  • Is it casual interest, or more specific, direct intent, perhaps related to their work or business?

3. Audience Behavior- How does my target reader behave?

  • Human beings don’t always act predictably, as we know.
  • Therefore we need to identify personas to understand what they truly want and not just go by what the data shows.
  • To complete your audience persona, you first need to see how their behavior aligns with whom they appear to be.
  • What type of content do they like?
  • What kind of information convinces them to act?
  • Does this all match up with whom they seem to be on the surface?

When you address a reader’s goals, you’ll find a casual reader becomes a passionate follower.

Passionate followers soon become evangelists.

Evangelists are the best free marketers you could want.

When your blog’s audience is full of evangelists, the sky’s the limit!

How Blogging Websites Evaluate Audience Budget

With developing evangelists becoming the goal, it’s vital you target people with expendable income. 

With due diligence, these people are not hard to find.

Given over 2.7 billion people in the world use Facebook, it makes sense their Audience Insights tool would be a fantastic (and free) place to do some audience evaluation. 

To enter Facebook Audience Insights, visit this page.

Facebook Audience Insights helps you to do a deep dive into demographic, psychographic, and behavioral factors to determine if you’re going to be writing for the right audience.

The goal is to differentiate a “hobby blog” audience from an audience that’s information-hungry and ready to spend to build a business.

How Do I Know My Blog Topics Are Business-Focused?

To evaluate a hobby niche versus one whose readers have spending potential, let’s take a look at gardening versus commercial landscaping.

To start, input gardening under interests and select 18 to 65+ as the age range to narrow the initial audience of 150-200M people.

Using just that variable has decreased our total audience from all of Facebook to 30-35M people in the United States. 

From the graphs, you can see that 72% of people who like gardening are female and there’s an equal distribution among age groups.

As you can see, gardening bloggers are likely females of all ages. 

Given this, there would be substantial competition trying to make money blogging in this niche. It would be a long road ahead.

If you’re willing to write about it for years, daily, and follow conventional blogging wisdom, you could make a few bucks.

What if we changed the mindset and took a look at landscape architecture?

Search for landscape architecture as an interest. See how much smaller the niche is! 

With this basic interest search, you can see that there are 5-6 million people in the US interested in landscape architecture. 

It’s a safe bet some of these folks are professional landscape architects (with money to spend), who would love to secure your services as a consultant to help them develop their content strategy.

See where I’m going?

Remember That You’re Trying to Create Evangelists

The business application of your niche has to be front-of-mind. How can you create an audience around this niche that’s ready to spend money to improve?

This mindset sets your blogging efforts up for success before you start to evaluate the demand for the niche, and think about how to start a blog.

The next step is creating content that’s appealing to your evangelist persona in the more focused niche. 

What about the content will encourage them to share it, engage with it, and buy what you’re looking to sell?

Eventually, you’re going to want to package content to sell to the audience you build, and asking these questions helps you determine what that content should be.

How to Scale Growth With Your Professional Influence

Throughout the course of your professional career, you have indeed built a network, and within it, a particular type of influence given your experience, skillset, and accomplishments.

The nature and makeup of this network will help determine how you leverage it; however, some approaches are worth considering.

First, consider what unique value you can provide your connections when you decide how to start a blog. Approaching outreach with this mindset can lead to some serious success.

It’s always about the value you can provide, not the value you want to receive. 

With this selfless mindset, you’re sure to earn the return you are seeking.

In summary, who among your connections would be open to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship? 

Write down those names and get to work contacting them.

This outreach is a huge first step!

Hint: LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for this activity. 

How the Best Blogs Perform Guest Post Outreach

It’s great to reach out to LinkedIn connections to see how you can work together, but it’s also impactful to identify high-domain authority blogs that allow guest posting.

Early on, most of the content you’re going to create is guest posts that drive high domain authority backlinks back to your website, not writing new articles on your blog.

For a step-by-step outline of the guest blog outreach process – including free templates to write your emails – check out our in-depth article on content strategy and content marketing.

Evaluate the Demand of Your Blog Topics

Once you have established reader personas, determined the budget of these personas, and evaluated how you can leverage your network, the last step is to gauge the market demand as you’re thinking about how to start a blog.

The easiest way to gauge market demand for an idea is to use a keyword research tool like Google Search Console or Ahrefs.

Here are a few benchmarks to consider when evaluating the competition level of a keyword:

  • The keyword difficulty of the keyword you’re researching should be 40 or less.
  • The Global Search Volume of the keyword should ideally be 5,000 or more.
  • There should be at least one result on the first page of Google rankings for the keyword with a domain authority of less than 30.
  • The Search Engine Ranking Page (SERP) for the keyword should have seen some movement in the last six months. If new pages aren’t breaking into the first page with some level of consistency, this could be a rough sign.
  • All of the pages in the SERP should have domain authorities less than 65.

It’s a pretty perfect scenario if all five of these variables are true. 

If you’re hitting on at least three of the five variables, then you’re golden.

You can have some confidence you could rank on Page 1 of the SERPs within a reasonable amount of time with some concerted effort to build backlinks and traffic.

How to Evaluate Keywords for Your Blog Topics

Using Google Chrome, this Ahrefs SEO Toolbar is a great way to quickly evaluate the domain authority of sites that come up in Google search as you consider how to start a blog.

We highly recommend Ahrefs, as it’s one of the best tools to use throughout your blogging journey. Ahrefs offers a 7-day trial for $7, which is well worth it for the wealth of information you’ll have at your fingertips to evaluate your niche.

Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s do some research on the keyword, topics to write about. 

Here’s the screenshot for that topic in Ahrefs:

Let’s evaluate this term based on the criteria we mentioned above for competitiveness:

  • 39 Keyword Difficulty – Good – It’s under 40, so that’s a positive.
  • 11K Global Search Volume – Great! – It’s well over 5,000 global search volume, so definitely for which people search.

A solid start. 

Now let’s go to Google and search for the term to see how much domain authority the results on Page 1 have:

What the Data Is Telling Us About Your Potential Niche

Now, this looks promising! 

These are the first four listings below position zero in Google rankings for the keyword. Three of the four listings have a Domain Ranking (Authority) of less than 51, and only one is higher than 65 at 73. 

In short, this keyword is a winner and something you could structure a blog topic around. This same holds when you’re looking for the primary keyword of your entire blog post.

Once you’ve identified your main keyword, click on “All Keyword Ideas” on the left sidebar in Ahrefs, and it will pull back all of the other keywords related to your search:

Evaluating these keywords in the same way you evaluate the primary keyword is the next step. It’s great to have multiple keywords to use in your articles to position as well as possible for Google search, and earning organic traffic.

These secondary keywords are called Latent Semantic Index (LSI) keywords or semantic keywords. 

We’ll cover this in greater detail in future articles.

Doing Your Due Diligence When Starting a Blog Will Pay Off

Doing due diligence to determine the topic of your blog and the articles you write is just the beginning of the journey.

Content strategy and content marketing strategy are vital to ensure the content you create gets traffic. 

Once you’ve established steady traffic, taking the right steps to make it work for you comes next.

You’re here because you want to make money blogging, and we’re here to help with the journey.

Are you looking to move a little faster?