Amateur Blogging – Ultimate Guide (2022)
Done right, amateur blogging can be an incredibly lucrative business and is one of the most popular passive income sources out there.
The freedom it provides is just unparalleled. But, amateur blogging can be a little overwhelming and tricky.
While writing is an important part of blogging, the decisions you take in your blogging journey define your success as a blogger.
In this article, I’ll talk about everything you need to know to kick-start and grow an amateur blog.
Let’s get started.
What is Blogging?
Blogging is a process of producing high-quality, helpful content for a target audience around a specific topic or industry.
It essentially means that you write about the topics that people are searching for. Your blog is a source of information for people that want to learn new things.
But, of course, your content needs to be helpful and valuable if you want to make it a consistent source of income.
I’ll talk about how you can use amateur blogging to generate a passive stream of income later in this article.
First, let’s address another question.
Is Amateur Blogging For You?
Before you dive into the ocean of blogging, you need to make sure you want to do it for the right reasons.
So, ask yourself a few questions.
- Are you willing to fail forward? There might be times when your strategies won’t work; would you be able to take the hits and continue moving forward?
- Can you produce consistent, high-quality content?
- Do you understand it’s a long-term game?
- Do you intend to keep learning and evolving? (Blogging is an ever-evolving industry)
Amateur blogging is for you if you said “Yes” to all of those questions.
It’s not for you if the following is true:
- You don’t have the time
- You are expecting quick results
- You don’t intend to learn
- You hate writing and marketing
- You aren’t willing to invest
- You hate working consistently
With that out of the way, let’s get to the first and probably the most important part of blogging.
Pick Your Amateur Blogging Niche
One of the first things you should be doing as an amateur blogger is niche research.
Here is a mistake many new bloggers make: They decide the topic of their blog without considering the three most important factors:
- Their interest
- The income potential (Market demand)
Start by creating a list of topics that you are interested in or are passionate about. Don’t overthink it, just put your thoughts on a piece of paper.
Then, see which of those topics fall under your expertise.
This is important especially if you intend to write the content yourself. You could go with a niche that doesn’t interest you much if you have the funds to hire a writer.
Next, you want to make sure there is enough demand for your shortlisted niches.
One of the effective ways to do that is by using Google Trends.
Just enter the main term into the search bar and see if the topic is popular enough. It’s important because you want to make sure your topic isn’t seasonal.
You want to pick a niche that’s ever-green and will remain popular in the years to come.
Let’s see what Google Trends shows us for “Gardening”.
As you can see, although the trend for “Gardening” went down in the past, it’s fairly stable and will remain so.
So, gardening could be a profitable niche for amateur blogging.
Remember, you need to find a few niches with a stable or growing trend first.
The next step is to filter out the one with the lowest competition as you don’t want to compete with authority blogs.
You can do a quick Google search and see how many results does the search engine shows. The higher this number, the more competitive the niche generally is.
The right way to go about it is by niching down your topic.
For instance, if you’ve decided to work on gardening, you could narrow the topic down to “Indoor gardening”.
Generally, the more you niche down a topic, the lower the competition gets.
But, make sure the niche you choose has enough sub-topics that you can talk about.
This brings us to the next important part of amateur blogging.
Keyword Research for Amateur Blogging
This step kind of overlaps with the niche research one. Some SEOs perform keyword research to find the right niche.
The general rule is: If there are enough potentially profitable keywords around a topic, it’s a viable niche.
So, how do you find profitable or easy to rank keywords?
Keyword research for amateur blogging is a whole separate topic, so let’s dive in.
Use Google to Find Keywords for Amateur Blogging
One of the first things you want to do while doing keyword research is doing a quick good-old Google search for your main term.
You’ll see a shortlist of suggestions by Google around your seed term (main keyword).
The ideas you can generate using this method are limitless.
Note the relevant ones and see if they are worth writing on (how competitive they are – more on this later).
Why stop there? Hit enter and scroll down to the bottom; you’ll see a whole lot of other related suggestions by the search engine.
You can also use the “People Also Ask” box of Google to find highly relevant and popular topic ideas.
Now you have a lot of ideas around your main topic. But, what about their popularity and competition?
Let’s first see how you can find the keyword search volumes by using free and effective keyword research tools.
What’s My SERP
What’s My SERP is a free Google Chrome extension that shows the search volumes and CPC (cost per click) of your searched keywords.
After installing the extension, just search for a keyword as you’d normally do.
Here is how What’s My SERP would look like:
As you can see, the tool not only tells you the monthly search volume of a particular keyword but also tells the same information of numerous other related terms.
The best thing is, at the time of writing this blog post, What’s My SERP is completely free.
What’s My SERP isn’t the only free keyword research tool that tells the search volumes though.
There is another free tool that even goes the extra mile and tells you the SEO (search engine optimization) competition.
Just enter your keyword and it’ll show you all the information you’d need about that keyword.
It even shows the SEO difficulty for that particular keyword.
The higher this SEO difficulty number, the tougher it is for an amateur blogger to rank for that keyword on Google’s first page.
We don’t have to look at the other two metrics though: Paid difficulty and Cost Per Click don’t relate to organic search results.
That’s not it though; when you scroll down, you’ll see a list of related phrases with the same data.
It even shows the trend of a particular keyword to tell you how consistent its popularity is.
However, there is a catch!
The keyword research tool only lets you do three keyword searches per day, but if you are careful, they can be enough.
By now, you should have a list of potentially profitable keywords with monthly search volumes and SEO difficulty.
Notice how I said “Potentially”? Well, before writing on a keyword, you should check how competitive it would be to rank for by looking at the SERP (search engine result pages) results manually.
Here are a few factors to keep in mind while doing SERP analysis for a particular keyword:
- The websites that rank for that keyword aren’t very old and established (like Forbes, entrepreneur)
- The domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) of at least a couple of results are low. You can find the DA and PA of search results by using the MOZ bar extension
- See if there are any forum results on the first page (Reddit, Quora, and others). If there are, the keyword would generally be fairly easy to rank for
With keyword research out of the way, let’s now move to the next important step.
Find the Domain Name
Once you know your niche and what you are going to write about, it’s time to pick a great domain name for amateur blogging.
This can be a tricky step as the domain name of your blog is also your brand’s name; it’s essentially the name of your business on the web.
Luckily, you don’t have to create a whole list of names by yourself; there are online tools for that.
All you’d need to do is: Search a term as you’d do on Google’s search engine.
It’ll show you different unique and creative ideas for your domain name.
It even tells you which of those domains are available and you can buy them right now.
While selecting a domain name for your blog, keep in mind that it should be relevant to your niche.
Include a term that gives your audience an idea about what your blog is about.
Moreover, you also need to know the different types of domain names to land the right one for your blog.
Let’s talk about them.
Types of Domain Names
Exact match domains: EMDs are domains that exactly match your target keyword. For instance, if you were to create a blog on indoor gardening, your EMD could be “indoorgardening.com”.
Partial match domains: Domains that partially match your target keyword are PMDs. For instance, indoorgardeningworld.com.
Authority domains: Authority domains that have a single word and don’t have to be related to the target keyword. For instance, Forbes.com.
From the competition and safety standpoint, you want to choose a partial match domain. It gets the point across and is relatively easy (and safe) to rank.
How to Choose a Domain Name for Amateur Blogging
Although it’s an important part of amateur blogging, you don’t have to think too much about the name of your blog.
Just go with a name you think represents your new online business well.
My recommendation would be to go with a partial match domain: Include your primary keyword in the domain name and add an extra word.
Just make sure that your domain name isn’t longer than 3 words. Ideally, it should consist of two words.
Choose Your Blog Host
Now that you’ve narrowed your niche down, have a list of profitable keywords, and decided on your blog’s domain name, it’s time to invest in a good hosting company.
There are tons of options when it comes to website hosting, which makes this step a little overwhelming for an amateur blogger.
But, with a little research, you can find the right hosting company for your blog.
Your choice mainly depends on your initial budget and requirements.
One of the most important factors to look for while choosing a hosting company is how responsive and helpful their support is.
If you don’t want to go through the extensive research process, I can recommend a couple of good hosting companies.
One of the most cost-effective and safest options is Namecheap. The company has been around for a while and has a great reputation among bloggers.
Namecheap is ideal for amateur blogging because it doesn’t cost much and offers enough features.
Another great but a little expensive option is Bluehost. It’s one of the most used hosting service providers and is ideal for bloggers that have the required initial investment.
If you only intend to create a single blog, the basic plan of Bluehost will suffice. But, I’d recommend getting a higher-tier plan if you can afford it.
Having the flexibility of unlimited websites is always a plus.
Plus, of course, when you are choosing your plan, make sure to go with the 12-month term at least. It’ll save you a few bucks overall.
Create Content for Amateur Blogging
By now, you should have your website live on the web. The next step is to create great content and attract relevant traffic to your blog.
In order to attract the right kind of traffic to your blog posts and make them act on your offers, you need to make sure your content is SEO-friendly.
SEO-friendly content just means that you’ve optimized it for the target audience as well as for search engines.
Let’s get into the details.
Target the Right Keywords
You want to create content around the topics that are not only in-demand but also are easy to rank for.
See, amateur blogger or not, you’ll have a really hard time ranking for a keyword that’s already been targeted by big websites.
For instance, let’s say you want to write on creating SEO-friendly blog posts.
Now, the topic has been deeply covered by many pro bloggers and authority sites. Even if you put in the hard work, you won’t be able to outrank the already-ranked websites on Google.
You want to work on keywords that can move the needle for your online business. Keywords or queries that still need better answers.
Research the Competition
Competitor research is important to create the type of content that can get ranked on the first page of Google.
You want to outrank your competitors for specific keywords. So, produce much better content around those keywords.
Search the keyword in Google and observe the first few results (web pages) for:
- The length of content
- Images and other visuals
- Depth in which the topic is covered by each page
Then, produce something better than all of those first-page results.
However, make sure your content is helpful and valuable and doesn’t contain fluff or filler words.
Let’s dive in a little deeper.
Producing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts
There is a lot that goes into producing Google-friendly blog posts.
Use Your Keyword in the Right Places
Google should be able to find your main keyword in your post’s:
- Title tag
- H1 heading
- Meta description
- Body text
Moreover, if you are targeting any secondary or LSI (latent semantic index) keywords, use them in the H2 headings and the body text.
Keep in mind that your keyword’s density should be under 2%, otherwise, you’d end up over-optimizing your post, which is not good for SEO.
Use your keyword a few times and as naturally as possible.
Use Simple URLs
The URL of your blog post should be simple, short, and tell the reader what’s the post is about.
This not only helps its click-through rate but also assists Google in ranking it for the right search queries.
Use Image ALT Tags
Next, include eye-catching or helpful images within your blog posts wherever possible.
Images tend to be visually appealing and can help visitor retention and dwell time (the average amount of time a user spends on your post).
This eventually helps your post’s search engine ranking.
Plus, use your keywords in image ALT tags to help the search engine understand what your images are about.
Add Internal and External Links
Linking is an important aspect of blogging; it helps search engines like Google to understand and rank a piece of content.
Internal linking is when you connect a blog post to another one on the same domain.
This helps Google understand your site structure and boosts your search engine rankings.
External links are links to any relevant and reputable web pages. Linking your content to related authority sites helps your blog’s relevance and content’s credibility.
Write Short Paragraphs and Sentences
Using short and simple sentences and paragraphs helps your content’s readability. There is nothing more repelling than huge blocks of texts.
Try to communicate a point in a couple of short sentences.
Moreover, use transitions in such a way that the reader can easily connect each paragraph with the next.
Optimize Your Meta Descriptions
Your Blog posts’ meta description plays a more important role than you might think.
See, one of the most important search engine ranking factors is your post’s click-through rate. And, the second most important thing (first being the title) that can improve the CTR of a post is its meta description.
Include the primary keyword of a post in its meta description and write actionable copy to persuade users to click on your link.
Promote Your Amateur Blog
Taking care of the SEO part of your blog posts is a must, but you can’t ignore the power of social media as well.
So, make sure you have your social media pages set up and share every blog post on these pages.
For instance, if you think your target audience is hanging out on Pinterest, create visually-appealing pins for every post and include a link to that post.
Monetize Your Blog
This is where you get all the rewards for your work; monetizing your blog with display ads and affiliate products.
Apply for a program once you have enough content on your site and a decent amount of traffic coming.
You could join an affiliate network and start promoting their products to get a per-sale commission. Or, you can work with an ad company like Google AdSense.
Even better if you can diversify your income stream and work with both types of partners.
This was all about amateur blogging and how you can get started as a complete newbie in blogging.
The process is simple but not that easy; you’d need to make some important decisions at the beginning of your blogging journey and work consistently.
If you can write your own blog posts, you won’t need much investment. But, understandably, your blogging investment will increase when you outsource your SEO content.
You have a complete roadmap of how to grow an amateur blog from scratch. So, go out there, work smart, be persistent, and let blogging be a consistent stream of income for you.